Though it won’t be worn on the pitch during games, a multicolored USMNT crest will make a statement during training and at official fan events.
To show solidarity in light of widespread accusations of human rights abuses around the tournament in Qatar ever since the Persian Gulf nation was granted host country status, the team is showcasing a rainbow-colored iteration of its official crest at their Al Gharrafa training ground.
Though tournament organizers have insisted that all fans are welcome at the event, same-sex relationships are illegal in Qatar.
The USMNT will stick to its traditional crest with blue lettering and red stripes on the pitch for actual games, but manager Gregg Berhalter said Monday it’s about representation on the global stage and living out the spirit of US Soccer’s “Be the Change” campaign. The Seattle Times reports fans attending the nearly month-long event will also see the rainbow-colored crest in US soccer-controlled areas in Qatar, including fan events and watch parties.
“When we are on the world stage and we are in a venue like Qatar, it’s important to already bring awareness to these issues. And that’s what Be the Change is about, it’s not just stateside that we want to bring attention to social issues, it’s also abroad. And we recognize that Qatar has made strides, there has been a ton of progress, but there’s still some work to do. And it’s just about Be the Change basically represents everyone’s individual opportunity to make change or to have change start with them. So I think it’s appropriate that we have it here, as well.”
The “Be the Change” was started by US men’s players following the killing of George Floyd by law enforcement in Minneapolis in May 2020.
In addition to widespread criticism about its stance on LGBTQ rights and the deaths of at least 6,500 migrant workers in the lead-up to the competition, the Qatar authorities have additionally been chastised for questionable housing for traveling supporters staying at designated “fan villages.” In an effort to curb any future discontent, the Qatari government’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy is offering select attendees flights, housing accommodations, and a ticket to Dec. 18’s final match in exchange for positive publicity about their handling of the World Cup.
The United States isn’t the first nation to play in the tournament while simultaneously condemning the atrocities as a result of mismanagement — per the Wall Street Journal, Denmark revealed black jerseys honoring the thousands of workers who died constructing venues and infrastructure for the tournament. In Australia, players advocated for the families of these workers to receive compensation in a joint video.
For their part in giving back, the USMNT said they’ve extended an invite to a number of venue workers to attend a training session on-site.
Elsewhere around the world, several entertainment figures have even gone so far as refusing to perform on the world’s biggest stage this month. Singer Rod Stewart revealed to The Sunday Times he rejected a $1 million offer to perform in Qatar 15 months ago.
“It’s not right to go. And the Iranians should be out, too, for supplying arms [to Russia],” he said.
Grammy-winning pop star Dua Lipa, meanwhile, confirmed on Instagram she “will not be performing” at the 2022 World Cup and looks forward to visiting Qatar “when it has fulfilled all the human rights pledges it made when it won the right” to host.
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