Why It's Important The Irish Soccer Kit Incorporated The Rainbow Flag

The Irish and US international soccer teams incorporated the rainbow flag into their kit to mark the beginning of Pride month in a show of solidarity with LGBT+ people.

The Irish soccer team in a line viewed from behind with rainbow flag incorporated into their kit

According to the FAI the incorporation of the rainbow flag into the Irish team’s football kit is a statement of support for LGBT+ people. It has been broadly welcomed by many supporters who praised the fact that LGBT+ people and Pride were being celebrated at such a traditionally straight yet high profile event.

The soccer world has long been criticised for its fetishisation of hyper masculinity and its culture of homophobia. Only in the last few years have football authorities finally started to tackle what is a major stain on their industry and started to build a new culture which centralises respect and diversity. Clearly there’s a long way to go but this is a very welcome step.

There are some online who have criticised the move – disguising their homophobia as proceduralism – by insisting that sporting events shouldn’t be platforms for political statements. God forbid. Everything’s political and the idea that sports should be ring fenced from the rest of society and not tainted by anything resembling a political statement or a mark of solidarity is ridiculous. Some of the greatest moments in sporting history have been when it has collided with politics.

For the second year running the Trump White House has refused to recognise Pride or it’s history, and given  how Trump seems to be on a singular mission to roll back much of the civil rights gains of the last fifty years it is heartening to see their national soccer team make such an unequivocal statement of solidarity with the LGBT+ community.

We live in precarious political times where the rights we fought for and won can no longer be taken for granted. This summer the biggest event in soccer – The World Cup – takes place in Russia. Crimes against LGBT+ people are commonplace there and Putin’s ally in Chechnya has been linked to horrendous crimes against gay people. While there are those who say that we shouldn’t politicise these events I for one welcome the addition of the rainbow flag to the kit and would welcome another rainbow flag or 2 thrown in there if for no other reason than to remind those who face persecution that they’re not alone.

© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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