“No one’s told me I can’t wear an armband. I’m an ex-England player, but it’s not me going out on that pitch”
BY ELLA GAUCI, IMAGE BY BBC SPORT
Last November, former footballer and BBC presenter Alex Scott made history when she wore the OneLove armband in Qatar during the World Cup. The competition had been fraught with heated discussions about Qatar’s anti-LGBTQIA stance, making Alex’s decision to wear the armband not only powerful but brave.
In a recent interview with Attitude Magazine, Alex revealed that the decision to wear the rainbow armband was very last minute. “I remember before going live on TV, I’d done my glam, I was all ready. We were supposed to be celebrating and getting ready for an England game, to cheer them on,” she told Attitude. “But there I was, feeling heavy and emotional and sad.”
“I remember being pitchside and saw Andy [part of the England team’s PR crew]. I said to him, ‘Wait!’ […] ‘No one’s told me I can’t wear an armband. I’m an ex-England player, but it’s not me going out on that pitch.’ He’s like, ‘Genius.’”
Alex’s decision was made even more impactful as it followed the U-turn England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, and Switzerland made on their promises to wear the OneLove armband during their games. After being threatened with yellow cards, all teams backed down on their promises to sport the pro-LGBTQIA symbol. But for Alex, this wasn’t an option.
“I was actually fearful, because of everything I’ve heard about what goes on in Qatar,” Alex also revealed. “I was hiding [the armband] at that moment and put it on at the last minute as I was about to go live, and I said, ‘Kelly, I’m going to wear this armband, don’t ask me any questions. The statement in itself is enough.’”
In the interview, the former footballer revealed that she hadn’t even told the BBC she was going to wear it. It was simply so last minute that there wasn’t time.
“I could hear all the producers, then Gary [Lineker] and everyone in the studio shouting, ‘She’s got the armband!’ I just tried to block out everything,” she revealed. “I can’t remember the question Kelly was asking me, I was just standing in front of the world with the armband and what a statement it was going to make at that moment. After getting the interview out the way, the first thing I thought was, ‘Am I actually going to be OK?’”
Alex’s decision to wear the armband made her the target of abuse after the World Cup, affecting her life for the months that followed. “I was seeing that amount of abuse constantly. It was hard to feel, constantly, that I upset people, in a way. Disrespecting anyone’s religion was never the intent behind any of it. Here we are talking about love and inclusion,” she admitted.
Despite receiving some backlash for wearing the armband, Alex’s symbol of support and hope for the LGBTQIA was one of the defining moments of the World Cup. In the interview with Attitude, Alex reveals a touching moment when a cleaner in Qatar stopped her to thank her for her bravery and for standing up for the LGBTQIA community.
DIVA magazine celebrates 29 years in print in 2023. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQIA media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable.