Ryan Atkin, England’s first openly gay EFL professional referee, is to mentor 20 LGBT+ individuals en route to becoming FA-qualified match officials, all of whom will become the first beneficiaries of Paddy Power’s #Rainbow Russians initiative with the Attitude Magazine Foundation.
The bookmaker’s ‘From Russia With Equal Love’ campaign debuted Thursday (14 June), delivering £10,000 for each of Russia’s five goals in the World Cup tournament opener versus Saudi Arabia to LGBT+ causes.
£50,000 was the minimum donation Paddy Power had guaranteed to Attitude’s Foundation, and Russia’s national football team – clearly inspired to excel given the oppression and discrimination the Russian LGBT+ community faces every day – delivered all of that in the very first match of the month-long tournament.
Darren Styles OBE, Publisher of Attitude magazine said: “What an extraordinary start to the 2018 World Cup – Paddy Power’s incredibly generous minimum donation of £50,000 delivered in a single game by a Russian team totally committed to the pledge of £10,000 a goal for the LGBT+ community.
England’s first openly gay EFL professional referee Ryan Atkin will mentor 20 LGBT+ individuals en route to becoming FA-qualified match officials
“You really do find allies in the most unexpected places!”
He continued: “We are delighted to confirm that the first beneficiaries of the Attitude Foundation’s Russian-inspired windfall will be 20 LGBT+ individuals (applications will be invited post-tournament) who wish to become FA-qualified match officials.
“We will fund their courses all the way to FA qualification and have persuaded the lovely Ryan Atkin to mentor the group. He will meet them at the start of the process, be available throughout to them and will gather them as a group again at the end.
“It will be a fantastic and enduring legacy for this campaign to know that on parks and playing fields, and maybe even one day all to the World Cup Final itself, will be LGBT+ officials able to take part in the beautiful game on an absolutely level playing field.”