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'They are coming home' - Norfolk fans return from Russia

PUBLISHED: 16:51 05 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:09 06 July 2018

Ian Odgers, left, is flying back to Russia for the semi-final. Picture: IAN ODGERS.

Ian Odgers, left, is flying back to Russia for the semi-final. Picture: IAN ODGERS.

Archant

The nation are hoping that the Three Lions will not be catching a plane home soon - but for some Norfolk fans in Russia, that time has sadly come.

LGBT campaigner Di Cunningham proudly flew her 'Three Lions Proud' flag at the World Cup, but is reluctantly coming home             Picture: Di CunninghamLGBT campaigner Di Cunningham proudly flew her 'Three Lions Proud' flag at the World Cup, but is reluctantly coming home Picture: Di Cunningham

Di Cunningham has been waving an LGBT St George’s flag at the World Cup since the Tunisia game, but now she must return for work.

She said: “I have been there since just before the Volgograd game so I have been there for two and a half weeks but I have a job and I have work to do.

“I would have loved to have stayed out there the whole time. I don’t think people thought England would stay in for this long.

“I’m really jealous of people going to the quarter-final.”

LGBT campaigner Di Cunningham proudly flew her 'Three Lions Proud' flag as she watched England beat Tunisia at the World Cup. Picture: Di CunninghamLGBT campaigner Di Cunningham proudly flew her 'Three Lions Proud' flag as she watched England beat Tunisia at the World Cup. Picture: Di Cunningham

The 56-year-old LGBT campaigner added that while the World Cup had been a great experience, the trip had highlighted that life is very different for gay people in Russia.

She said: “Its really difficult to be gay out there. We met some people from the LGBT community in Moscow and life is just a hassle for them.

“We went to some LGBT clubs in St Petersburg and in Moscow. They were all secret and had secret entrances.”

“It must have been what it was like in the 60s here.

“We were challenged by security at Volgograd and had to wait 20 minutes while they checked with a supervisor who finally allowed the flag in.

“Then at Nizhny we got through security and put the banner up but a supervisor took it down and confiscated it telling us ‘those colours aren’t allowed in the stadium’. We asked FIFA to intervene and the flag was returned after a long wait.

“We hung it up again and you can see it in the background by the goal for most of the first half goals.

“Hopefully there will be some kind of legacy. We had people coming up to us and saying this is great. Even Russian fans, one of them was a gay man and he was amazed to see LGBT visibility in football stadiums.

“The English FA have been great, they allowed us to use their special three lions crest.”

Ian Odgers from Dereham has also been forced home by work, but is planning on returning if England make it to the semi-finals.

He said: “Everywhere you go is good fun. As a kid I always dreamed of going to the World Cup. The travelling is part of the fun of doing it.

“Everybody I have met I have got on well with and it’s like one big football party. Everyone is taking everyone else’s picture. Even Argentina who went out still have fans here.”

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