Alexander Agapov is President of the Russian LGBT Sport Federation and also a big fan of his country’s soccer team. So he showed up at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium during the World Cup opener against Saudi Arabia with a rainbow flag in tow.
He then waved it after every one of Russia’ goals, and his arms got a workout since the home team scored five times.
“I believe you should practice what you preach and, if I’m telling LGBT football fans to be visible, then I should do it myself,” Agapov told The Associated Press. “Each time the Russian team scored a goal I was waving the rainbow flag … I was showing my support.”
Officials have said that fans will be allowed to bring rainbow flags into stadiums and Agapov said he was not bothered by anyone at the game. A fan outside the stadium told him, “I don’t want that kind of world.”
The real danger for LGBT fans won’t come from officials but from random attacks by thugs preying on those they perceive to be gay.
A rainbow of a sort will also be on display Monday in Volgograd when England meets Tunisia. England’s Football Association has allowed its symbol to be used as a support for LGBT rights, the Daily Beast reports:
There, in the stands, with the significant endorsement of the powerful English Football Association (FA), will be a 1-by-2-meter (about 3 by 6 feet) banner showing the organization’s familiar Three Lions insignia made over in the rainbow colors of the LGBT Pride flag, pictured in our main image above. It will be unfurled by Di Cunningham, organizer of Three Lions Pride, an English LGBT soccer fan network.
“The FA definitely wants it to be seen and wants us to go,” Cunningham said. “They have endorsed it. To create the banner we had to clear the use of the image’s rights with them. We will also be wearing specially designed scarves with the same design. Both have the FA’s endorsement. It’s a very limited run. We are not allowed to sell them or make any more of them. The FA wants the visibility and association with LGBTQ+ inclusion.”