RUSSIAN NATIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM
The squad score our (Accidental) Allies Award for inadvertantly raising £170,000 for LGBT+ causes during the World Cup. Take that, Putin
Love. A universal language. It matters not what kind of love. But that spark between a boy and girl, or boy and boy, or girl and girl, or between persons undefi ned by gender, is instantly recognisable the world over. Even in Russia, where standard practice has become to hunt LGBT+ people like dogs, to trap them, to beat them, to humiliate them or worse.
The perfect country, then, for FIFA, world football’s governing body, to award a World
Cup tournament. Who wouldn’t want such a showpiece — hand- delivered by a voting process so corrupt that a number of senior off icials were disbarred or jailed as a result — to be given to a country where disregard for LGBT+ rights is second only to the next host, Qatar, in 2022? There, gay fans do not pass go, they simply go to jail for up to three years. You couldn’t make it up.
But in such adversity you find friends in the unlikeliest of places.
The story of our ( Accidental) Allies Award 2018 began when Irish bookmaker Paddy Power approached the fl edgling Attitude Magazine Foundation with a daring proposition just ahead of World Cup kick- off in Moscow in June. For every goal ( and own goal) the host nation scored during the tournament, Paddy Power pledged £ 10,000 to fund a number of causes dedicated to making football more LGBT+ inclusive.
What became known as the # Rainbow Russians campaign – from Russia with equal love – captured the imagination of millions who watched a daunting launch video that highlighted LGBT+ abuses in Russia, then followed the fortunes of a Russian national football team almost as avidly as their own. A generous minimum donation of £ 50,000 ensured there were no losers, but few would have foreseen the extraordinary eff orts of the host nation when inspired to aid the LGBT+ community...
After Russia unexpectedly made it through the initial group phase and into the knockout stages — prompting Paddy Power to up the ante to £ 20,000 a goal – they then knocked out Spain before falling to Croatia in the quarter finals ( albeit while scoring twice), so the final tally accrued by Vlad’s lads was a whopping £ 170,000. Could there be more deserving award winners?
Paddy Power said: “We’re glad to celebrate the incredible impact Russia made on the LGBT+ community at this year’s World Cup. It took a lot for them to come out in support. We are proud not only to have donated £ 170,000, but also to have given the Russian football team a new LGBT+ fan base.”
Darren Styles OBE, the publisher of Attitude, agreed: “Paddy Power’s # Rainbow Russians was an inspiration – a positive approach to circumstances far from ideal. The award of this World Cup tournament was an outrage, but when the football started we were able to engage and educate while co- opting the host nation. The £ 170,000 the Russian team earned the Attitude Magazine Foundation, thanks to Paddy Power’s generosity, will deliver a legacy of more LGBT+ players, coaches and match off icials. We think they’d be pleased.”
The Foundation’s grants will be detailed within Attitude in the months ahead.
In a World Cup year, Russia’s own national football team struck out for equality by raising £ 170,000 for the Attitude Magazine Foundation.
Whether they knew it or not…
“T HE £ 1 7 0, 0 0 0 W I L L DE L I V E R A L E GACYOF M ORE L GBT+P L AY E RS , COACHES A ND M ATCH OFFICI A L S ”