Alexander Agapov, President of the Russian LGBT Sport Federation, unfurled a rainbow flag during Vladimir Putin’s speech at the opening game of the World Cup between Russia and Saudi Arabia at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday.
— Alexander Agapov (@Konijnvanolland) June 14, 2018
The AP reports: ‘”I believe you should practice what you preach and, if I’m telling LGBT football fans to be visible, then I should do it myself,” Agapov told The Associated Press. “Each time the Russian team scored a goal I was waving the rainbow flag … I was showing my support.” Agapov said security staff had no problem with the flag but he did receive abuse from another spectator outside the stadium, who said “I don’t want that kind of world.”‘
Russia scored five times, and each time Agapov unfurled the Pride flag.
Earlier in the day, longtime UK activist Peter Tatchell was arrested near the Kremlin for protesting Russia’s failure to stop the torture of gay people in the southern republic of Chechnya.
Following Tatchell’s arrest, the British Football Association (FA) endorsed a banner which showed “the organization’s familiar Three Lions insignia made over in the rainbow colors of the LGBT Pride flag.”
It will be unfurled by Di Cunningham, organizer of Three Lions Pride, an English LGBT soccer fan network.
“The FA definitely wants it to be seen and wants us to go,” Cunningham said. “They have endorsed it. To create the banner we had to clear the use of the image’s rights with them. We will also be wearing specially designed scarves with the same design. Both have the FA’s endorsement. It’s a very limited run. We are not allowed to sell them or make any more of them. The FA wants the visibility and association with LGBTQ+ inclusion.”
The small group of Three Lions Pride fans may hold the banner, or tie it to railings, Cunningham said. They will also take rainbow flags to wave.
An FA spokesperson confirmed to The Daily Beast the Football Association’s endorsement of Three Lions Pride’s rainbow-customized banner and scarves, as well as the FA’s support of the LGBTQ+ soccer fans traveling to Russia and their “important” presence at the World Cup supporting England.
EXCLUSIVE: The English Football Association (@FA) is supporting LGBT fans at the #WorldCup in Russia by endorsing a specially designed rainbow flag banner with the Three Lions insignia, @timteeman reports. You’ll see it Monday at England’s 1st game. #Pride https://t.co/KjZndvF95L
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) June 15, 2018