rainbow flag

The first on-pitch fan protest of the 2022 FIFA World Cup took place in the final match of the second round of group stage games. Early in the second half, someone with a shirt that said “Save Ukraine” on the front and “Respect for Iranian Women” on the back and a rainbow flag ran onto the pitch and briefly halted the PortugalUruguay game.

The person was briefly shown on the world feed as cameras tried to zoom in on the referee and avoid him. They ran with the flag past the referee and then seconds later, the feed showed the ref picking up the flag while it’s assumed that the invader kept running before eventually being caught.

If you were watching the Fox broadcast in the United States, you could hear John Strong talk about someone on the pitch and then he and Stu Holden remained silent for nearly 50 seconds.

It’s usually standard practice to not show a pitch invader, regardless of the reason, so it’s not like the world feed director specifically avoided showing the person just because it was a pro-LGBTQ act. Though it wouldn’t have been surprising if that mandate wasn’t there and FIFA chose to cut away. Especially given efforts to keep anyone from having anything remotely resembling a rainbow along with Gianni Infantino’s unhinged rant a little more than a week ago.

Many people had various takes. From those who were worried about the fate of that person to applauding the person to denouncing the person to those who were critical how TV commentators handled the act.

It’s been a World Cup of political statements given the location of the tournament and Qatar’s human rights record. The country has even gone so far as banning rainbow flags and making Belgium eliminate the word “LOVE” on the inside back collar of their away kit.

About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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