US soccer team switches out national colors for Pride flag at World Cup

"When we are on the world stage and when we are in a venue like Qatar, it is important to bring awareness to these issues and that is what 'Be the Change' is about"

With one week to go before they begin their World Cup run, the US soccer team has made adjustments to their team crest in order to make a statement on the world stage.

The red vertical stripes that have graced the bottom of their team badge for almost a decade have been replaced with the rainbow colors of the pride flag as a means of showing solidarity with the LGBTQ community. The updated crest is a part of their "Be the Change" campaign that was launched in 2020.

"When we are on the world stage and when we are in a venue like Qatar, it is important to bring awareness to these issues and that is what 'Be the Change' is about," Team USA coach Gregg Berhalter told reporters on Monday.

"It is not just stateside that we want to bring attention to social issues, it is also abroad," Berhalter added. "We recognize that Qatar has made strides and there has been a ton of progress, but there's some work still to do."

The move by FIFA, the federation behind the World Cup, to allow the tournament to take place in Qatar has been widely criticized due to its recent history of human rights abuses, including the criminalization of homosexuality.

The country has come under fire in the last few years for refusing Israeli peace talks and for allegedly promoting worldwide extremist terrorism.

Qatari officials have said that all fans will be welcome, including LGBTQ fans, but that visitors must be aware of, and respectful of, the nation's laws and culture.

The rainbow crest will not be featured on the team's kit for any of their matches, but according to the spokesman for US Soccer Neil Bluthe, it will be a "consistent" part of the team's identity.

"As part of our approach for any match or event, we include rainbow branding to support and embrace the LGBTQ community, as well as to promote a spirit of inclusiveness and welcoming to all fans across the globe," Bluthe said.

"As a result, locations that we will manage and operate at the FIFA World Cup, such as the team hotel, media areas and parties, will feature both traditional and rainbow US Soccer branding."

The 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament kicks off on Sunday November 20, with the US's opening game against Wales taking place on Monday, November 21.

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