Germany Protests FIFA Decision That Blocked Rainbow Armbands
When protests erupted at the U.S. Open this past Sunday, the most eye-catching display came one week after the end of the season, when one group of protestors gathered around a soccer-themed banner protesting FIFA’s decision to ban the Rainbow Flag of gay pride. The banner would have read: “Gay is OK.”
The protest seemed to catch the attention of FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who addressed the protestors in the days following the U.S. Open. He said that FIFA had taken into account the protest and was committed to “making soccer the best it can be,” and that Blatter’s statement was meant to “demonstrate that soccer is the best game for everyone.”
Blatter also suggested that Rainbow Flags would no longer be allowed in future games, and that FIFA would continue to defend a “neutral” stance on such matter on future decisions.
On Friday, FIFA announced that gay and lesbian teams would be allowed to play in future games under an “all-inclusive” format – meaning only one team, and not a co-op, could be gay or lesbian in a given team’s colors.
But FIFA’s stance against rainbow symbols has proven to be an interesting and controversial issue that still divides fans of the world’s most popular sport. For the past seven years, FIFA has stated that its goal in allowing gay and lesbian players in its world tournaments is to remove potential confusion over the players’ sexual orientation. But the backlash from gay rights groups and players such as Mia Hamm has convinced FIFA to reconsider its stance, and the rainbow flag has been seen in matches and at tournaments ever since.
On Saturday, in the hours before the U.S. Open began and before the first game kicked off in New York, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced the first openly gay player in a team’s colors had been named on an all-male team for the U.S. Open.
A month ago, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced that it would allow gays and lesbians compete in its U.S. Open, despite the rainbow flag’s prohibition. Now, the Rainbow Flag, and