Toronto soccer scene in uproar over World Cup controversies

A Toronto soccer team is searching for armbands that show their support for the LGBTQ community after officials banned players from wearing them at the World Cup in Qatar.

The Brazucats, a social team of mostly queer Brazilian women, have been closely following the controversy. The captains of the teams from England, Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark were planning to wear One Love armbands, a product of a Dutch inclusion campaign in 2020, during World Cup games to protest host country Qatar’s laws against same-sex relationships.

But those countries’ soccer associations backed down on their plans just before the start of the month-long competition after international governing body FIFA said it would issue a yellow card to any player who presented the armband.

“Since the start of the World Cup, we’ve been talking about the bracelet and how ridiculous it is that FIFA is punishing players,” said Katherine Di Pace, who manages the Brazucats. The team plays on Sundays at the Brazilian Soccer Academy in Etobicoke and on Wednesdays in an indoor league in Vaughan.

“The players should wear the One Love bracelet for sure,” he said.

Despite the threat of a yellow card from FIFA, Di Pace said the players should have used them anyway, and that his team is looking for one of its own to use as support. (The bracelets have sold out since ban was announced.)

“I know it can affect your games, but athletes have great power to influence people and this is an important time to support and show respect for the LGBTQ community,” he said. “That little bracelet has an important message for the world.”

A Dutch fan wearing fake breasts brings a smile to the police in Qatar during the 2022 World Cup. Photo via Twitter / @nocontextfooty

The issue became more intense for Di Pace after the rising tide of hateful rhetoric directed at queer people turned into real violence last weekend in a deadly attack that killed five people at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“That reminds us that crimes against the community continue to grow,” he said. “The message on the bracelet is a little message that tells us that we exist.”

A Toronto soccer team is searching for armbands that show their support for the LGBTQ community after officials banned players from wearing them at the World Cup in Qatar.

Just before the global soccer event, a Qatari ambassador described homosexuality as “mental damage” and said gay people “will have to accept our rules” when visiting the country for the competition, which include bans on public demonstrations. of affection and the criminalization of relationships between people of the same sex.

Human Rights Watch last month issued a report which said Qatari security forces had arrested and abused a number of people because of their sexual orientation or gender expression.

“People can’t wear the colors of the rainbow, they can’t show affection, they can’t be who they are,” Di Pace said. “For me, as a lesbian, it’s devastating.”

Katherine Di Pace runs the Brazucats team and was trying to find a One Love bracelet online that they could wear on the field. Photo provided by Katherine Di Pace

The preparation for this year’s World Cup has also been affected by concerns about the suffering of the low-paid migrant workers who built the infrastructure in the small Gulf nation, while the US Department of Justice. in 2020 accused representatives working for Russia, which hosted the 2018 competition, and Qatar for bribing FIFA officials to secure hosting rights.

For Sergi Ivanchennko, league manager for the Toronto Soccer Association, concerns about the awarding of events remain a top priority.

“We have to understand if there was bribery involved, how much? Which people?” he said. “You can’t just throw in, like, ‘Oh, they’re all corrupt.’ No, not all, in the first place, and what was the process like? What was the number? Who are they? the people behind these decisions?

Morgan Sharp / Local Journalism Initiative / National Observer of Canada

5 thoughts on “Toronto soccer scene in uproar over World Cup controversies”

  1. I am very proud about my team Brazucats. We are happy to support the LGBTQ community and spread our soccer in Canada.
    Thanks for the opportunity to share a bit of us and how we are feeling about the World Cup. Very nice conversation.

  2. We are extremely proud of representing women in soccer! Our Brazucats social group was even more ecstatic when Canada made to the world cup! However with majority of players proudly from the LGBT community, we couldn’t be more disappointed with FIFA for picking such an extreme, homophobic and misogynistic country as host.

  3. It’s very beautiful how Katherine takes care of the brazucats team with so much love and passion. How she is persistent in turning the team into a family and a place of shelter for minorities. It is a pleasure to be part of the brazucats family and even more, it is a pleasure to have Katherine as a friend.

  4. It is a shame to see so many voices having been shut down on this world cup. Unfortunately, this is yet the reflection of what happens on the real world. The world definitely would be a better place if we just learn how kind, warm and welcoming the LGBT+ community is. I feel like I have my own family when I am with Brazucats team.


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