Following warnings from the Football Supporters’ Federation, the Football Association and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Offices to LGBT+ soccer fans travelling to Russia for the World Cup stating, “Do not publicly display your sexuality”, Russian hooligans have bombarded a queer football supporters’ alliance with death threats.
Joe White, from Pride In Football, representing LGBT+ football fans, spoke in an interview about reporting the online threats to the police. “We’ve had people say that if they find us they’ll stab us, they’re being dealt with seriously and those investigations are still ongoing.”
There has been a furore about the selection of Russia as host of the World Cup considering the country’s notoriously homophobic attitude and the rise in the number of neo-nazi football hooligans. Joe White, however, has said he will defy the warning. “I could go out and almost go back into the closet and act butch but that kind of plays exactly into what we are trying to show is an issue. We shouldn’t have to feel that we have to behave any differently than we would. It’s not like I’m going to be sticking my tongue down people’s throats or anything. I’m going out there for the football and to experience the World Cup.”
White’s views stand in contrast with the Supporters Association warning, which read, “With any trip abroad it is essential to understand your destination’s cultural and ideological beliefs. Whilst often you are able to behave as you would in the UK, certain things must be treated with caution in societies less tolerant than back home.”
However, White continued, “If it’s safe to do so we’ll be taking rainbow flags, hopefully getting some form of visibility in stadiums to show that LGBT+ football fans do exist and, just as much as any fan, we’re a valid part of the game.”
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