RUS­SIAN NA­TIONAL FOOT­BALL TEAM

Attitude - - Front Page - Words Peter Gard­ner

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 ”

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