While we’re all gloriously getting our hopes up and convincing ourselves that football is, indeed, coming home, there’s still something about the FIFA World Cup in Russia that leaves a slightly bitter taste.
The country is one of the most homophobic in the world – and just days before the tournament started, two gay French football supporters were hospitalised when they were brutally beaten after getting out of a taxi.
And in the Russian region of Chechnya, where the Egypt national team were based, many gay men are still missing after being rounded up, tortured and killed in concentration camps. Egyptian star Mo Salah, who was pictured with Chechnyan leader Ramzan Kadyrov, was so upset about being drawn into the political scandal that he reportedly threatened to quit the Egyptian national side.
But one group of activists, who call themselves the Hidden Flag, came up with a genius way of protesting Putin’s homophobic laws.
The six protesters wore shirts from Spain, Holland, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia to make their own version of the famous LGBTQ flag.
In a statement in Spanish on their website, the group wrote, “At the same time that Pride Month is celebrated in the rest of the world, we decided to denounce this situation and take our flag to the streets of Russia. How? Using something that would never arouse anyone’s suspicions: football shirts.”
“Spain, Holland, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia. Six countries. Six courageous LGBT activists who, together, formed our flag and toured emblematic places in Russia, taking to every corner a fight that will never be silenced.”
Activist Marta Márquez told the BBC: “Once we landed in Russia our first steps felt very scary, but little by little we realised that nobody knew what we were doing, so I started to relax, although I stayed alert.
“Over our five day visit there was no sense of real danger, nobody threatened us.
“Most people were very kind to us, especially the tourists who saw us as equals. However, if they had known what we were doing it probably would have been different.”
That’s some superb, socially-conscious trolling right there. Five stars.