Rainbow hats are welcome: to an inclusive World Cup

While the debate rages about LGBTQ protests in Qatar, Chapter Arts in Cardiff is setting out to give fans an inclusive space to watch Wales’s progress through the World Cup 

Chapter’s symbol of solidarity for the queer community

Fans gathered at Chapter Arts Centre to watch Wales play their first World Cup game in over 64 years and all eyes were on the captain Gareth Bale.  

While the Iranian team took the brave stand of not singing their national anthem there was some disappointment to see that the Welsh team was not wearing the promised One Love armband.  

Stephen Johnson was five months old when Wales was in the World Cup last time

“There’s a threat of having them booked. And I think that’s a shame, in any struggle against, whether it’s racism or inequality. said Wales fan, Stephen Johnson. “You’ve gotta make a stand at some point. Otherwise, people walk all over you. And taking a booking would’ve been a massive, massive statement. And it would’ve stuck two fingers up to FIFA.”

Fans worldwide have expressed concerns about the treatment of LGBTQ fans in Qatar and Wales fans especially have condemned the removal of rainbow-colored Welsh buckets hats. 

Chapter’s studio is all set to cheer for Wales at the FIFA World Cup’22

The Wales Football Association also released a statement condemning the removal of Wales fans’ bucket hats. 

“I think it’s important, they should be doing it,” said Wales supporter Mollie McDermott. “The footballers should be able to wear the band if they want to. And I dunno who’s making the rules, if it’s the, the organizations themselves or if it’s maybe the management or the PR teams.” 

As a part of the Gwyl Cymru festival Chapter aims to create a safe space for the LGBTQIAP+ community given that the world cup is being hosted in Qatar where same-sex relationships are unlawful, local artist Phil Morgan’s artwork which is a rainbow-coloured hand in a heart shape is posted on the 60ft lightbox at Chapter which shows solidarity to the queer community at home and away. 

Bob Gelsthrope, Head of Communications and Marketing at Chapter said, “This is a space where everybody is welcome, but we’re paying specific attention to the LGBTQIAP plus community.” 

Gwyl Cymru festival is a 10-day event by the Football Association of Wales in partnership with the Arts Council of Wales which brings communities together to celebrate the Welsh culture, language, arts, and the men’s football team in their World Cup journey. As a part of Gwyl Cymru Chapter will stream football matches, and movies, and host T-shirt printing workshops. 

From the tip-off, the studio at Chapter was filled with Welsh football fans of all age groups dressed in red with their faces painted and the iconic Welsh bucket hats. The venue oozed patriotism and excitement throughout, fans were seen waving the Welsh flags and cheering for the team at the top of their lungs.  

Although Wales conceded the first goal fans were in high spirits and continued to cheer the team and did not lose hope.  

Wales fans joined together as it was time for kick-off

Fans burst out singing “Yma o Hyd” as soon as Gareth Bale scored the penalty and the atmosphere was absolutely electrifying, some fans waved the Welsh flag while others hugged their loved ones in happiness.

Pamela Richard happily poses in front of the Gwyl Cymru banner

Pamela Richard said “I don’t think Wales were on the map a long time ago. I mean, I went to America years ago and they didn’t know where Wales was. They only knew England and they thought we were all one big part. But now obviously we’re on the map.” 

As the match ended the room was filled with happy faces who were proud of their team making it to the World Cup and showing the World that despite everything and everyone they are still here.