USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter says ‘it’s important to bring awareness to social issues’ at the World Cup with new rainbow crest amid criticism over attitudes towards LGBTQ fans in Qatar
USA’s head coach Gregg Berhalter has spoken of the importance of the nation changing their crest to include the rainbow flag at the Qatar World Cup.
The US Soccer Federation, which normally uses a crest with blue lettering and red stripes, changed the stripes to seven different colors at Al Gharrafa training facility – the team’s base for the competition.
Qatar has been criticized over attitudes towards LGBTQ fans ahead of the World Cup, which begins on Sunday.
‘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,’ Berhalter said Monday.
USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter has spoken about the nation’s new crest at the World Cup
‘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 nation’s federation said the rainbow crest will not be worn on the field but will be used in areas in Qatar it controls, such as fan parties.
Pictures from the team’s base, where the US team trained on Monday, showed a huge US crest on the wall, alongside the slogan ‘One Nation’.
Before the switch, the stripes in the flag were all red – but now they are rainbow colors
‘It’s a sign of our values and what we represent as a men’s national team and US Soccer, and we’re a group that believes in inclusivity and we’ll continue to project that message going forward,’ American goalkeeper Sean Johnson added Monday.
Neil Buethe, the USMNT’s Chief Communications Officer, told DailyMail.com: ‘Our rainbow badge has an important and consistent role in the identity of U.S. 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.
A huge US crest on the wall, alongside slogan ‘One Nation’, appeared at USA’s training base
‘As a result, locations that we will manage and operate at the FIFA World Cup, such as the team hotel, media areas and parties, will feature both traditional and rainbow US Soccer branding.’
Last spring, the US wore jerseys with rainbow-colored numbers for Pride Month and wore orange armbands to raise awareness against gun violence.
In the build-up to the upcoming World Cup, many players have raised concerns over the rights of fans travelling to the event, especially LGBT+ individuals and women, whom rights groups say Qatari laws discriminate against.
Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup but the small nation has come under intense pressure in recent years for its treatment of foreign workers and restrictive social laws.
The country’s human rights record has led to calls for teams and officials to boycott the November 20 to December 18 tournament.
The USMNT are currently preparing for their first game in Group B against Wales next Monday with players arriving at their headquarters in Doha following the end of club action.