England and Norwich City fan proudly flies LGBT flag in Russia during World Cup win
PUBLISHED: 10:44 19 June 2018 | UPDATED: 10:59 19 June 2018
An England supporter flew her rainbow banner with pride as she watched her country triumph in their opening match of the World Cup.
Di Cunningham, a Norwich City fan and chairman of Pride in Football (PiF), travelled to Russia despite warnings of widespread prejudice and potential aggression towards LGBT fans.
Having initially been apprehensive about taking her specially designed ‘3 Lions Pride’ flag into the ground in Volgograd, Ms Cunningham took the plunge after Fifa officials reassured her about her safety.
“When we approached the turnstiles at the ground there were baggage checks,” she said. “The security guy saw the banner and was obviously torn about what to do.
“There was a lot of talking between various officials about whether it was allowed. It was a very uncomfortable 15 to 20 minutes but, when they’d decided I could take it inside, the security turned to me apologised.”
Although Ms Cunningham has taken rainbow flags into Wembley on previous occasions, her first trip abroad with the flag was a step into unknown and unpredictable territory.
But once inside the ground, she encountered a surprising level of tolerance from English and Russian fans alike.
“Doing this was obviously a test of the Russian fans and their reaction, but also a test of the English fans as well,” added Ms Cunningham.
“I was getting high fives from so many England fans and a couple of Russian fans even came up to me and hugged me. I could see the flag was really important to them.
“It’s a privilege to be at the World Cup because it sort of creates a bubble of acceptance. The long-terms issue is what happens after the tournament is over - hopefully it can create a bit of a legacy.”