Campaign image of EE and Talk Sport campaign for Gay Times

EE partners TalkSport and Gay Times in Hope United campaign

EE has teamed up with TalkSport and Gay Times in the third instalment of its Hope United campaign.

Developed by EssenceMediacomX, “Hope United: Everyone’s game” tackles homophobic abuse through an hour-long roundtable led by professional footballer and Champions League winner, Lianne Sanderson.

The roundtable features fans and former players discussing topics like the meaning of a true ally, how homophobic abuse affects queer players on and off the field, and the reasons behind there being more openly LGBT+ female players compared with men.

“The fact that Hope United is now on its third iteration demonstrates that the nature of online abuse is as varied as it is abhorrent,” Pete Jeavons, director of marketing comms at EE, said. “As long as online hate exists, Hope United will have a role to play, and EE will continue to use its platform to help create a more inclusive digital society.”

Joe Cole, former England, Chelsea and West Ham midfielder, will join Sanderson in the discussion.

It follows his appearance in EE's GayVAR campaign alongside Tom Allen, which was released in February.

Fara Williams, England’s all-time most capped player and EE Hope United ambassador, will also appear on the panel.

Other panellists include Josh Cavallo, the Adelaide United midfielder who made history in 2021 as the world's only openly gay male top-flight professional footballer, as well as chairs from Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur's LGBT+ fan groups.

Lou Englefield, campaign director, Football v Homophobia, added: “Fans, players, clubs and brands are in such a strong position to put a stop to homophobic abuse, and share the fact that it’s as simple as putting your hand up and saying ‘that’s not OK’

"Football should be for everyone and this is the key message everyone should share.” The panellists will discuss how attitudes in sport and society will develop over the next 10 years, and the impact this will have on being an LGBT+ footballer at grass-root and elite levels.

James Roberts, head of business development at TalkSport, said Hope United aligned with the sports radio brand’s priorities.

He added: “The combination of our broadcast, connected audio, web and social assets will give them the largest possible reach in this community."

Josh Fletcher, executive creative director at Gay Times, said the partnership illustrates “the power in collaboration of media owners, footballers, fans and leading voices within the community to drive real change and tackle a key issue”.

Fletcher added: “It is imperative that brands use their influence to ignite genuine and meaningful impact, tackling online abuse head-on so that online hate doesn’t stunt this progress.”

“Hope United: Everyone’s game” is available on TalkSport's YouTube channel and can be listened to on TalkSport and TalkSport2 from 2 April. A podcast will also be available from 3 April.

Gay Times is promoting the roundtable through short-form social assets. Josh Cross, associate director of content and innovation at EssencemediacomX, said working with EE allowed the media agency to be creative with sporting talent and use football as a force for good.

“We loved bringing these two media brands together for the first time and have been impressed by the way everyone got behind this cause to help the UK fight online abuse.”

Article first published by Campaign. Read the article via Campaign here.