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Rainbow shoe-lace campaign against gay abuse causes stir in English Premier League

BY ROB HARRIS, AP SPORTS WRITER

LONDON -- The boxes of rainbow-colored laces landed at the training grounds of English Premier League clubs unannounced at the start of the week.

They turned out to be part of a promotional campaign by a charity encouraging players to help tackle anti-gay abuse in football by replacing their regular boot laces with the gay rights symbols for this weekend's games.

However, the initiative has managed to antagonize leading clubs and led to the football authorities expressing reservations about the publicity-seeking strategy employed by sponsors of the campaign. Bookmaker Paddy Power has its branding plastered over the promotional material connected to the initiative — including newspaper ads this week that feature slogans with sexual innuendo— which has caused many football officials to feel uncomfortable about a move that was ostensibly meant to help eradicate discrimination.

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