The US Men’s National Team is giving a big middle finger to FIFA and Qatar by using a USA logo adorned with the LGBT Pride flag colors at the team’s training center in Ar-Rayyan, Qatar, ahead of the World Cup, Reuters has reported. The team will not wear the rainbow logo on its match jerseys.
In case you hadn’t heard, it is illegal to be gay in Qatar. LGBT Qataris report being arrested and assaulted for being LGBT.
While the decision to use the rainbow logo was clearly at the highest levels of US Soccer — this kind of thing doesn’t happen without getting sign-off from the people in charge — it’s also getting public support from players and coaches with the team competing in the World Cup.
“We have chatted and continue to have discussions as we lead into the games,” said goalkeeper Sean Johnson, according to The Guardian. “We have leaned on the message of ‘Be the Change’. That is something that we have been proud of and continue to work towards, be impactful with ourselves, our presence and our platform, and we will continue to be so here in Qatar.”
U.S. Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe told Reuters that the rainbow logo will be at every venue managed by the United States — “the team hotel, media areas and parties” — will have both the traditional red-white-blue logo, as well as the rainbow logo.
It’s a powerful message from the United States. While many companies and organizations hold the rainbow flag back in their engagements in the Middle East and with other countries that prohibit homosexuality, this is a big, bold statement.
It’s inspiring to see American sports leading in this way. The United States has been a world leader in breaking down barriers for LGBTQ athletes for over a decade, and that continues here.