Jamie Vardy’s celebration went a little too far. After scoring a last-minute goal Sunday to net an incredible victory for his team, the Leicester City striker slid into a rainbow flag on the side of the field.
The flagpole shattered, providing an ugly image to the Premier League’s LGBTQ fans. But Vardy’s actions afterwards have cleared up any misunderstanding, and leave no doubt he stands in support of LGBTQ people.
Vardy scored the goal to propel Leicester City to a 2-1 victory over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. He then slid into the flag, which was carrying Pride colors to kick-off the annual Rainbow Laces campaign. Over the last five years, the campaign has distributed more than 1 million laces to teams and athletes in the U.K. and around the world.
Given international soccer’s challenged history of LGBTQ inclusion, the Rainbow Laces project is a big deal — especially in the Premier League, where there’s been only one openly gay player in history, Justin Fashanu.
The social media accounts of Leicester City’s LGBTQ fan group, Foxes Pride, were pelted with homophobic comments following Vardy’s celebration, according to Sky Sports. Then Vardy issued a strong statement of support.
On Tuesday, he returned the flag with a message: “FOXES PRIDE - keep up the good work!”
How it started. How it’s going. pic.twitter.com/D7GImCD4om— Foxes Pride ️ (@FoxesPride) December 8, 2020
The timing of Vardy’s note is especially fortuitous, because Wednesday is Rainbow Laces Day, where sports fans across the U.K. are encouraged to show their rainbow laces in support of the cause to make sports welcoming for everybody.
Vardy’s grace has set quite the tone for the day. He could’ve gotten defensive in the aftermath of the incident, and insisted his actions were misconstrued.
Instead, he opted to display unabashed support. What a refreshing way to go about things.