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Not so good for LGBT fans


Cunningham, who will be attending England’s first match against Tunisia on Monday in Volgograd, said her alliance of LGBT football fan groups has received threatening anonymous emails, warning that they would be “stabbed” if they made the trip to Russia.

“We have received several warnings that LGBT fans will not be welcome in Russia and some were quite drastic in terms of what would happen to us if we did go,” said Cunningham, organiser of Three Lions Pride, an LGBT football fan group of England supporters, adding that it was “unfortunate” that FIFA is holding such a prestigious football tournament in a country where “some people are unwelcomed”.

Di Cunningham is part of the Proud Canaries, an LGBT fan group supporting Norwich City Football Club [Di Cunningham]
Pride in Football, the UK alliance for fan groups that belong to the LGBT community, has since lodged a complaint with FIFA – football’s governing body – and were told that the threats are being investigated by the tournament organisers.

Despite the reassurances, Cunningham says a lot of LGBT fans are scared to attend the month-long sporting spectacle in Russia.

“There aren’t many openly gay LGBT fans going because most people don’t feel that their safety is guaranteed,” Cunningham told Al Jazeera.

Fare network, the anti-discriminatory body that works in collaboration with FIFA, reported an increase in anti-gay and racist chanting in Russian football over the last year.

There were 12 incidents of homophobic behavior by fans inside the stadiums, according to the report by Fare network and the Moscow-based SOVA Centre, released last month.

The report noted that fans increasingly labelled opponents as “gay” as a means of abuse.

“These levels of discriminatory chanting indicate that xenophobic views remain deeply rooted among many Russian football fans,” the report said.

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