Over the course of the 2021/22 season, we will be holding four RiverSideBySide matchdays to highlight the club's commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. 

Each of the four games will have specific focus on an area in which we’re targeting –  a ‘protected characteristic’ under the Human Rights Act. Saturday's match against Swansea City, in tandem with Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign, celebrates and champions the LGBTQ+ community. 

We work closely with supporter group Rainbow Reds, who are represented on the Middlesbrough Supporters Forum, and member Matthew Gale had this to say.

"Football is one of the biggest communities in the world and it is hard to see in stadiums a minority of fans not feel welcome simply due to their sexuality or gender identity. Just because we are the minority doesn’t mean that these steps shouldn’t be made for us to feel safe and welcome in and around the stadium on a matchday. 

"We agree that the ways of thinking in the modern day are improving regarding LGBTQ+ and that many supporters are accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. However, what we are also aware of is that when a homophobic or transphobic term is used, that many people do not feel as though they can or want to say something to eradicate this from society. And this is the reason why the Rainbow Laces campaign is still extremely important.  

"Through Pride In Football, which is a network of LGBTQ+ Fan Groups, we aim to raise awareness alongside other clubs in the country from the highest level of football all the way down to the grassroots level that homophobic and transphobic language is still a massive issue within football and other walks of life also."

Another member of the Rainbow Reds group, Tracy, added: “We want the Riverside to be a welcoming space for all fans, where we stand shoulder to shoulder with all our communities in making our ground a welcoming place.

"When I see rainbow armbands, rainbow corner flag and allies speaking out, I feel I can be me, that me and my partner are welcome and hate and discrimination is not.” 

We ask Boro supporters to be allies for the LGBTQ+ community and remind all fans that the use of discriminatory language is not acceptable and could be classed as a hate crime. We encourage supporters report any such instances at the Riverside to a steward or the Police. You can also report anonymously via Kick It Out using the official Middlesbrough FC App, or online at kickitout.org

Want to know more about Rainbow Reds? Email rainbowreds@outlook.com or follow on Twitter @Rainbow_Reds.