A NEW anti-homophobia campaign to air soon will for the first time in Australian sporting history feature major names from multiple codes, including Sydney FC’s Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero.

The You Can Play series of TV and radio adverts set to air in early April will feature the likes of Del Piero, Melbourne Heart footballer Harry Kewell and Australian basketball export Lauren Jackson.

The group behind the campaign, Play By The Rules — which last year launched a similar anti-racism campaign starring Sydney Swans legend and Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes — also hopes to attract cricketer Mitchell Johnson and NRL footballers Sam Thaiday and Sonny Bill Williams to star in the campaign.

It is expected Wallabies flanker and noted LGBTI rights supporter David Pocock would also appear.

Play By The Rules manager Peter Downs told the Star Observer the campaign was based on a similar one set up in the US a couple of years ago in ice hockey.

“They had a lot of high-profile ice hockey players appear in that campaign and it’s kind of grown into something quite big in the US,” Downs said.

“We contacted them when we decided to do a campaign around homophobia. They’ve been very cooperative and more than happy for us to take that catchphrase and use it in ours.”

Downs told the Star Observer it was a real coup to have the involvement of Del Piero, who is known for declining promotional or marketing opportunities.

“We work through a company that is used to working with a lot of football codes,” he said.

“Alessandro was on our wish list — one of the people on top of the list — and he apparently was more than willing to help out, as was Harry Kewell.”

Last year’s anti-racism campaign kickstarted a national debate following an incident during an AFL match at the MCG where Goodes was racially abused by a young girl and soon after by Collingwood chief execuitve and media personality Eddie McGuire.

It’s a debate Downs believed the public was also willing to have on the issue of homophobia in sports.

“Once our latest campaign is complete we hope to send it out to all tv stations and radio networks across the country,” he said.

“We certainly hope it generates that discussion and awareness as that’s one of the principle reasons we do these things.”

With the treatment of LGBTI athletes in sports in the spotlight this year due to the controversy that surrounded the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games and laws banning ‘gay propaganda’ in Russia, Downs said it was important the issues were also localised and made relevant to Australians.

“The campaign is also likely to get a good run during the Bingham Cup gay rugby tournament to take place in August in Sydney,” Downs added.

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