England’s World Cup team is showing their support for the LGBTQ+ community by flying to Qatar in a Pride-themed plane.
Although you’ll have to squint if you want to see the ‘Pride-themed’ part as the jet flies over at 10,000 feet.
Featuring a tiny motif of Oscar – Virgin’s LGBTQ+ icon who wears rainbow-striped trainers – England’s decision to fly aboard the Pride-themed plane is an overt message, albeit one you need to look closely for, against Qatar’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws.
The 26-person squad, which includes midfielder Jordan Henderson and forward Raheem Sterling, are travelling on “Rain Bow” the Virgin Atlantic A350 Airbus, The Sun newspaper has reported, to the Qatar World Cup, which begins this week.
The plane features a motif of Oscar – the airline’s LGBTQ+ icon who wears rainbow-striped trainers. (Virgin Atlantic)
In the Gulf nation, same-sex relationships are criminalised with up to seven years in jail, while queer Muslim men, under Sharia law, can be punished with the death penalty.
England’s solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community follows the US men’s football team showcasing their support with the addition of a rainbow-coloured badge at their media workroom and training facility.
US Soccer’s chief communications officer Neil Buethe told PinkNews: “As part of our approach for any match or event, we include rainbow branding to support and embrace the LGBTQ community, as well as to promote a spirit of inclusiveness and welcoming to all fans across the globe.”
The Swiss FA included a same-sex couple holding handing in a video which announced their squad for the World Cup.
US Soccer’s Rainbow-coloured badge at their Qatar training facility. (US Soccer)
Despite homosexuality being illegal in Qatar FIFA has consistently reassured LGBTQ+ fans they will be safe to visit the country.
Several fans, however, have chosen to boycott the World Cup instead, adding the association’s safety promises are “not even close” to what is needed.
It follows foreign secretary James Cleverly previously asking fans “compromise” with Qatar ahead of the World Cup.
Cleverly’s statement was shutdown by MP Luke Pollard in a speech made in the House of Commons where he stated it is never OK to ask queers fans to “get back in the closet”.
This insensitive comment by Cleverly was followed by FIFA bosses urging players to “focus on football” rather than “handing out moral lessons”.
FIFA told PinkNews: “FIFA is confident that all necessary measures will be in place for LGBTIQ+ fans and allies to enjoy the tournament in a welcoming and safe environment, just as for everyone else.”