When FIFA banned the One Love armband in favor of gay rights – a cause very close to many in women’s football – at the Women’s World Cup, it was not a popular decision.
But Brisbane fought back, taking a subtle dig at FIFA; with a rainbow lighting up the roof of Suncorp Stadium during the halftime lights show.
More than 44,000 fans packed into Brisbane’s stadium to watch the star-studded England side battle to a 1-0 win over the valiant Haiti minnows, courtesy of Georgia Stanway converting his second kick attempt.
Stanway was one of the players to express dismay at FIFA’s decision to ban the symbolic armband that promotes LGBTQI+ inclusion – and insisted she and the Lionesses would continue to “stick to what they believe in”. It was a fierce statement of solidarity for her with some of her gay teammates, with Stanway in a relationship with male rugby league star Olly Ashall-Bott.
Australia skipper Sam Kerr, one half of football’s hottest pairing alongside USA midfielder Kristie Mewis, was another who criticized FIFA’s decision ahead of the Matildas’ home World Cup.
Suncorp Stadium was lit up like a rainbow during half-time in England’s win over Haiti, and many fans have linked it with a dig at FIFA
Brisbane Stadium had a full-length rainbow on both sides of the stand roofs
The One Love armband for gay rights and inclusion worn by England skipper Leah Williamson during the team’s game against Brazil earlier this year
The armbands that the captains of each team can choose to wear during the Women’s World Cup in place of the One Love bracelet
Instead, FIFA offered its eight suggestions for social causes that captains could promote with their armbands during the tournament, ranging from education to indigenous peoples and the vague group “joy, peace, love, pass”.
Fans were also appalled after the pre-tournament decision, although many cheered at the sight of the rainbow in Brisbane.
Of course, colored lights were introduced to the stadium in 2021, and it’s unclear if a rainbow was tied to a gay rights statement; but that didn’t stop fans from rejoicing at the sight.
“FIFA may have banned One Love, but they can’t ban gay lights,” said journalist Emily Keogh, who was at the stadium.
“Shade never made anyone less gay, FIFA,” one fan commented, referring to Taylor Swift’s iconic song “You Need to Calm Down,” which was written about anti-gay activists.
Pride Football Australia, which advocates for inclusion in sport, also showed its support for the rainbow at Suncorp Stadium.
“Ohhhh that’s what people mean when they say ‘shine’,” one fan said, with one Danish fan writing, “Damn that’s beautiful.
Georgia Stanway’s goal handed England victory at the Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, and she said before the tournament that she and other Lioness team-mates were unhappy with FIFA banning the One Love armband.
New Zealand skipper Ali Riley sporting his gay pride nails in the dressing room after the team’s huge win over Norway
It comes as New Zealand captain Ali Riley made a defiant protest against FIFA’s One Love directive, sporting fingernails in the colors of gay pride and transgender rights in his side’s stunning upset win over Norway in the tournament opener.
Riley, who was emotional as she choked back tears after the win, made sure her fingernails were in full view of the cameras – which broadcast her interview around the world – which thrilled fans.
“Absolutely love the pride and trans colors on Ali Riley’s nails, very nice to the touch and a big f**k to FIFA,” one fan said, with another writing, “Ali Riley deliberately gets the rainbow/trans flag nails in the shot for p*ss off FIFA, legendary behavior.”
“Nothing’s 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,” one fan wrote of what the colors represented.
It’s a cause close to Riley’s heart.
“When I look at my friends and teammates and think they wouldn’t be treated or given the same opportunities as me, it makes me so angry,” she told Just Women’s Sports last year.
Particularly with trans kids and sports, I look at what sports have done for me and my life and to think that little kids aren’t allowed to play sports (because of who they are), it really breaks my heart.’
There are at least 90 gay players absent from this Women’s World Cup – and likely many more – highlighting the importance of LGBTQI+ rights for many involved in the tournament.