US football team unveils LGBTQ+ Pride badge ahead of Qatar World Cup

The Qatar skyline, in pink, with the new USA badge featuring rainbow stripes

The US men’s football team has added the LGBTQ+ Pride flag to its badge ahead of the Qatar World Cup. 

The rainbow badge won’t feature on the player’s uniforms, which will remain in the traditional red, white and blue, but will be seen at the national team’s hotel, media areas and parties throughout the Qatar World Cup.

The logo is being used to protest Qatar’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws. Same-sex relationships are criminalised in the Gulf nation with up to seven years in jail, while queer Muslim men, under Sharia law, can be punished with the death penalty. 

A US Soccer spokesperson said: “Our rainbow badge has an important and consistent role in the identity of US Soccer. 

“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.”

Gregg Berhalter, head coach of the US men’s soccer team, said: “I think that when we are on the world stage and [we’re in] Qatar, it’s important to bring awareness to these issues, and that’s what Be the Change is about.”

Be the Change is the team’s overarching campaign which aims to highlight social injustices across the world. It was launched in November 2020 following the murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin.

Berhalter added: “It’s not just stateside that we want to bring attention to social issues. It’s also abroad. We recognize that Qatar has made strides and there has been a ton of progress, but there’s still some work to do.

“Be the Change basically represents everyone’s individual opportunity to make change and to have change start with them. So I think it’s appropriate that we have that here as well.”

The World Cup begins on Sunday (20 November) and the USA will play firstly against Wales on Monday (21 November).

The tournament has put Qatar’s human rights abuses under the spotlight, including its anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

It follows FIFA president Gianni Infantino urging participating nations to “focus on the football” rather than “handing out moral lessons”, a message which has thankfully been ignored by multiple teams including Australia and Wales.