Cliftonville Football Club demonstrated its commitment to equality and inclusion for all in sport when it flew a specially commissioned rainbow flag, complete with the club’s badge, at it’s successful Irish League Premiership match on Tuesday 22nd April at Shamrock Park.
In a radio interview on Radio Ulster’s Talk Back programme, Brian Smith explained that the idea first came about last July after the failure of the Marriage Equality Bill through the Stormont Assembly. After discussions the club contacted The Rainbow Project about it’s intentions and received complete support for the idea.
Feedback from players and fans alike has been fully supportive of the flag. Brian commented that it was designed to challenge homophobia in football which seemed to be one of the last bastions in Northern Ireland Society. This is a physical sign of welcome to the LGB community in Northern Ireland who may not feel welcome in many other areas of society.
Speaking about the flag, Malachai O’Hara, the Rainbow Project’s Health, Well-being and Services Manager said “Firstly congratulations to Cliftonville on their second year in a row of success at the Irish League. Secondly we would like to commend this brave move by supporters and members of the club. Promoting equality and inclusion is a brave step and within the context of sport, and football in particular, it is particularly bold. With this gesture of having a pride flag with the club crest emblazoned on it flying at home and away games, it sends a clear message to LGBT people and their families, that Cliftonville Football and Athletic Club is a welcoming place for LGBT people and their families. We commend Cliftonville supporters and members for this work and hope that this sends a clear challenge to others to consider what they can do to promote inclusiveness at their own clubs and associations. More and more LGBT sportspeople are coming out and being visible. Actions like this can only encourage this. If we create more inclusive and tolerant football clubs, then we reduce the risk of the next potential George Best walking away from football because of casual or unchecked homophobia or transphobia”
To listen to the full radio broadcast click here
To see the Twitter launch of the flag click here