When FIFA banned the One Love armband in support of gay rights – a cause very close to many in women’s football – at the Women’s World Cup, it wasn’t a popular decision.
But Brisbane has hit back, taking a subtle dig at FIFA; with a rainbow lighting up the Suncorp Stadium roof during the half-time lights show.
More than 44,000 fans packed into the Brisbane stadium to watch the star-studded England side toil away for a tough-fought 1-0 win over gallant minnows Haiti, thanks to Georgia Stanway converting her second attempt at a spot kick.
Stanway was one player to express their dismay at FIFA’s decision to ban the symbolic armband that promotes LGBTQI+ inclusion – and insisted she and the Lionesses would continue to ‘stand by what they believe in’. It was a fierce statement of solidarity for some of her gay teammates, with Stanway in a relationship with male rugby league star, Olly Ashall-Bott.
Aussie skipper Sam Kerr, one half of football’s most high-profile power couple alongside USA midfielder Kristie Mewis, was another who slammed FIFA’s move ahead of the Matildas’ home World Cup.
Suncorp Stadium was lit up as a rainbow during half-time of England’s win over Haiti, and many fans linked it to a dig at FIFA.
The Brisbane stadium had a rainbow running down the entire length of both sides of the grooves of the grandstands
The One Love armband for gay rights and inclusion worn by England skipper Leah Williamson during the side’s match against Brazil earlier this year
The armbands that each side’s captains can choose to wear during the Women’s World Cup instead of the One Love band
Instead, FIFA offered up its own eight suggestions on social causes captains could highlight with their armbands during the tournament, ranging from education to Indigenous peoples and the vague ‘joy, peace, love, pass’ band.
Fans were also dismayed after the decision prior to the tournament, although many of them perked up at the sight of the rainbow in Brisbane.
Of course colored lights were introduced to the stadium in 2021, and it is unknown whether a rainbow was linked to a statement on gay rights; but that didn’t stop fans from rejoicing at the sight.
‘FIFA may have banned One Love but they can’t ban gay lights,’ journalist Emily Keogh, who was at the stadium, said.
‘Shade never made anybody less gay, FIFA,’ commented one fan, in reference to Taylor Swift’s iconic song ‘You Need to Calm Down’, which was written about anti-gay rights activists.
Pride Football Australia, which advocates for inclusion in the sport, also showed their support for Suncorp Stadium’s rainbow.
‘Ohhhh this is what people mean when they say ‘glow up’, one fan said, with a Danish fan writing: ‘Damn this is beautiful.’
Georgia Stanway’s goal gave England the win at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, and she said pre tournament that she and other Lioness teammates were not happy at FIFA banning the One Love armband.
New Zealand skipper Ali Riley sporting her gay pride nails in the changing room after the side’s huge win over Norway
I love her creativity. You go girl, show your colors.
— V // #SaveLegendsOfTomorrow (@verohaa85) July 21, 2023
It comes as New Zealand captain Ali Riley made a defiant protest in opposition to FIFA’s One Love directive, sporting nails in the color of gay pride and transgender rights in her side’s stunning upset win over Norway in the tournament opener.
Riley, who was full of emotion as she choked back tears following the win, made sure her fingernails were in full view of the cameras – that beamed her interview around the world – which delighted fans.
‘Absolutely loving the pride and trans colors on Ali Riley’s nails very nice touch and a big f**k you to FIFA’, said one fan, with another writing: ‘Ali Riley deliberately getting the rainbow/trans flag nails in the shot to p*ss off FIFA, legendary behaviour’.
‘Nothing stopping Ali Riley from showing PRIDE at the World Cup this summer’, wrote a women’s sports page on Twitter.
‘Left hand Red/Orange/Yellow/Green/Blue, right hand the colors of the trans flag. Really really good,’ a fan wrote in relation to what the colors represented.
It’s a cause close to Riley’s heart.
‘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,’ she told Just Women’s Sports 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.’
There are at least 90 out, gay players at this Women’s World Cup – and likely many more – highlighting the importance of LGBTQI+ rights for many involved in the tournament.