GAA rejects Mayo’s request to wear rainbow numbers in support of LGBTQ+ community

The governing body reportedly said that playing gear was considered "sacrosanct", and advised the team to explore wearing rainbow laces instead.

Mayo GAA player playing football.
Image: Instagram: @OfficialGAA

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has rejected a request from Mayo to wear rainbow-coloured numbers on their jerseys in support of the LGBTQ+ community. The senior county team hoped to sport the special edition jerseys at its home games for the 2023 Allianz Football League season.

The idea for adding rainbow-coloured numbers to the kits came from former Mayo footballer Peadar Gardiner, who is now a Project Manager for the team’s charity partner Mindspace Mayo.

According to the Western People, Mayo GAA Secretary Dermot Butler confirmed that the application had been denied at a monthly County Board meeting on Wednesday, November 23. Reports state that the GAA’s Management Committee felt that team kits were considered “sacrosanct”, and that “the numbering of players was too integral to the game and shouldn’t be interfered with”. 

Butler described Croke Park’s response as a “bit disingenuous”, as officials advised that the team instead explore the option of wearing rainbow laces on their boots.

This is not the first time that the GAA has prohibited clothing that supports the LGBTQ+ community. In the lead-up to the same-sex marriage referendum in 2015, gay referee David Gough was prohibited from wearing a rainbow wristband as he officiated a league fixture between Dublin and Tyrone. At the time, the governing body said: “It’s a black and white issue. The association is apolitical. Any member is allowed to have their own political views or opinions outside, but Croke Park is not the place to make political gestures.”

Also commenting in 2015, Gough explained: “I had received permission at noon on Friday but then received a number of calls on Friday night and another at 7:30am (Saturday) when they told me they would not allow it.

“At one stage they had offered a compromise where I could wear the wristband under the stands at Croke Park, on the fringes of the pitch or in the dressing rooms, but would have to take it off when I cross the white line onto the pitch for the match,” he continued.

“I would not have done that. It would have made it look as if I had something to hide,” the referee concluded.

The news of the GAA rejecting Mayo’s appeal to wear rainbow numbers in support of the LGBTQ+ community comes at the same time that the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar faces criticism for its stance on OneLove armbands and rainbow accessories in stadiums.

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