After one month of events organised by the Russian LGBT Sport Federation during the FIFA World Cup, the closing conference took place at the Goethe Institute in Moscow.
In attendance were international guests including Ryan Atkin, the first openly gay referee in English football; Sophie Cook, the first transgender woman working as a staff member of a club at the English Premier League; Carrie Serwetnyk, the first female member of the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame and FIFA’s Head of Sustainability & Diversity Federico Addiechi and Russian representatives from football and civil society. The overall aim of the conference was to exchange experiences and best practices on promoting LGBT+ rights and discuss next steps in Russian football.
“We thank all involved stakeholders in Russia who supported the creation a safe environment for the international LGBT+ community during the FIFA World Cup. In a few days, our tournament will be over. It will be important to use the positive experiences of the past weeks to continue the collaboration between the Football Union of Russia, the Russian LGBT Sport Federation and other stakeholders to promote diversity and fully inclusive football in Russia,” said FIFA’s Addiechi.
“I’m very happy that the conference succeeded,” said Aleksandr Agapov, President of the Russian LGBT Sport Federation. “We had outstanding panellists to discuss acceptance of LGBT+ persons in fans subculture, the importance of coming outs and role models, and the difference openly LGBT+ professional footballers and referees can make. We certainly could not pass by a discussion of the World Cup legacy. We look forward to continuing to work together with FIFA and other stakeholders. It is our duty to make football truly inclusive for LGBT+ persons both in Russia and globally.”
This year’s World Cup broke new ground, with the introduction of a new protocol to handle incidents during each match and extensive training given to all involved personnel on anti-discrimination. While experienced anti-discrimination observers have been deployed in the stadiums, referees are also now able to intervene following a three-step process.
More information on Diversity & Discrimination at FIFA available here.
FIFA’s Good Practice Guide on Diversity and Anti-Discrimination is available here.