This past week has featured German and Danish officials wearing armbands supporting inclusion, Team Germany warming up in rainbow tops and Pride boot stitching, and a protester interrupting a match to wave a rainbow flag. Then on Tuesday, it was England’s and Wales’ opportunity to stand up for the LGBTQ community.
They both came through.
United Kingdom sports minister Stuart Andrew attended the match billed as “The Battle of Britain,” wearing a rainbow necktie and the One Love armband while watching from a box at Qatar’s Ahmed bin Ali Stadium.
Andrew is gay and had originally pondered boycotting the World Cup in protest of Qatar’s anti-homosexuality laws and FIFA’s unwillingness to push back against them. Ultimately he decided to take a public stand for LGBTQ inclusion by wearing the armband that FIFA had forbidden players from donning.
In the lead-up to the match, Andrew delved into his feelings about how the World Cup had turned its back on our community.
“These games should be a celebration show and for all football fans to enjoy. But sadly, so many of them are feeling that these are not,” he lamented. “This is not a tournament for them. I met with LGBT football supporters, and it was really distressing to see how emotional they got that they couldn’t be. They didn’t feel they could be part of this and that is not acceptable.”
The sports minister’s words underscored one of the enduring hardships of the 2022 World Cup for LGBTQ sports fans. Every time security demands that fans discard their Pride paraphernalia or refuse them entry for wearing a rainbow, it sends a chilling message: You don’t belong here as your true self.
This is something we’ve been pushing back against for generations—especially in the sports world. Which is why it’s important to see gestures of defiance from authorities like Andrew, or Welsh economy minister Vaughan Gething, who wore a rainbow lanyard while watching the match from the same box.
With England advancing to the knock-out round, there will be more opportunities for officials to show their support and display LGBTQ Pride during future matches. As the tournament goes on, let’s hope other countries decide to join the protest.