Soccer’s governing body FIFA has banned players at the Women’s World Cup from wearing Pride armbands during the tournament, so New Zealand player Ali Riley decided to make a fashion statement by painting her fingernails in rainbow colors during the Kiwi’s 1-0 win over Norway.
“Nothing stopping Ali Riley from showing PRIDE at the World Cup this summer,” the Women’s Sports Exchange tweeted along with a screencap of Riley’s nails.
Claire Watkins on Twitter did a deep dive into the nail colors and, uh, nailed it:
“Left hand Red/Orange/Yellow/Green/Blue, right hand the colors of the trans flag. Really really good.”
I could not find a statement from Riley on her nail colors, so maybe it’s just a coincidence that they’re the same colors as those worn in support of LGBTQ Pride. But given her past public support as an ally for LGBTQ inclusion, I doubt that.
“When I look at my friends and teammates and think that they wouldn’t be treated or have the same opportunities as I would, it makes me so angry,” Riley said last year. “Particularly with trans kids and sports, I look at what sport has done for me and my life and to think that little kids are not allowed to play sports [because of their identity], it really breaks my heart.”
Riley was raised in Southern California and plays for New Zealand because her father is a native. She plays for Angel City FC in the NWSL and retweeted this on the team’s Pride Night last month: ”The safest place to PRIDE in LA is at an acfc match. cheers to the queers in all your shining, shimmering splendid.”
FIFA banned Pride-specific armbands and will issue yellow cards to any player who wears one. Instead, FIFA will allow players to choose from one of eight armbands whose themes don’t mention lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or nonbinary rights:
Unite for Inclusion — in partnership with UN Human Rights
Unite for Indigenous Peoples — in partnership with UN Human Rights
Unite for Gender Equality — in partnership with UN Women
Unite for Peace — in partnership with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Unite for Education for All — in partnership with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Unite for Zero Hunger — in partnership with the UN World Food Program
Unite for Ending Violence Against Women — in partnership with UN Women
Football is Joy, Peace, Love, Hope & Passion — in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO)
Kudos to Riley for making a statement and let’s hope FIFA doesn’t start banning nail polish.