Ireland and US mark beginning of Pride month with rainbow football shirts
The Republic of Ireland and the US incorporated the rainbow flag into their football shirts to mark the beginning of Pride month at an international friendly in Dublin last night.
The two teams used the colours of the rainbow to fill in the numbers on the backs of their shirts, replacing the traditional white.
The Football Association of Ireland (FIA) unveiled the special Pride designs on Saturday, by tweeting a picture of vice-captain John O’Shea, who retired from international football following the match.
“Not just a number, this is a statement,” said the FIA on Twitter. “Ireland, supporting #LGBT rights.”
Ireland came from behind to beat the US 2-1 at the friendly at Aviva Stadium in Lansdowne Road, which was attended by 32,300 football fans.
But the decision to use the rainbow flag on both teams’ shirts was met with a mixed reaction.
Some fans celebrated the move, with one Twitter user commenting: “Fantastic stuff, well done Ireland.”
And Aisling Bea, an Irish actor and comedian, who was vocal about the campaign to overturn the ban on abortion in her home country, tweeted alongside a rainbow emoji: “Yes. Yes. Yes. You’ve made me almost want to watch football. Keep up the good work.”
However, others responded with homophobic comments – and some argued that it went against FIFA’s ban on having political symbols on football shirts.
One user tweeted: “This is just ridiculous! Sport shouldn’t be used/abused in this way. If the FAI chose to promote a Biblical position on this issue can you imagine the uproar!”
Another person wrote on social media: “I thought that there were rules against any political or religious symbols? Not sure which category this falls under but it seems inappropriate.”
US Soccer had also revealed that the men’s and women’s national teams would be wearing jerseys with the rainbow incorporated to celebrate Pride month.
One Twitter user praised the decision, writing: “Thanks for being a leader for all to be proud of! Thank you for your support!”.
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But, again, not everyone has been supportive of the move.
One person tweeted: “Stop politicising soccer please,” before adding: “I am a Christian and the Bible tells me that LGBTQ is a sin…the rainbow is a symbol of a promise from God, but has been twisted to mean something else now.”
And one Christian soccer player, Jaelene Hinkle, has refused to play for the US national team because of the requirement for her to wear the pride shirt.