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Paddy Power will donate £10,000 to the Attitude Foundation for every goal Russia scores at the World Cup

The 'From Russia with Equal Love' campaign guarantees £50,000 to LGBT+ causes and makes unwitting allies of the Russian team.

By Will Stroude

Russia will be cheered on by a surprising set of supporters at this summer’s World Cup, as Attitude and the LGBT+ community comes out to back a nation with a hostile and discriminatory ‘gay propaganda’ law.

That’s because the Russian national football team – whether they know it or not – will be directly funding an Attitude Foundation campaign to tackle homophobia in football.

For every goal the host nation score, bookmaker Paddy Power will donate a chunky £10,000 to fund a number of causes dedicated to making football more LGBT+ inclusive.

Working with Attitude magazine’s Foundation, Paddy Power’s donations will:

  • Challenge LGBT+ prejudice on and off the field
  • Support footballers and those in the game in coming out
  • Fund educational programmes in schools and colleges
  • Make grass-roots teams safe spaces for LGBT+ players

The LGBT+ community have come out in force to support the campaign and, however unlikely, the Russian football team…

Ex-Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, Rugby Union legend Gareth Thomas, swimmer Mark Foster, international rugby referee Nigel Owens, England women’s internationals Lianne Sanderson and Jordan Nobbs, England cricketer Danni Wyatt, actor Christopher Biggins and choreographer Louie Spence have all revealed themselves to be ‘Rainbow Russians’ and are urging the LGBT+ population to stand in solidarity with Putin’s boys.

From left to right: Caitlyn Jenner, Olympic swimmer Mark Foster, Rugby Union legend Gareth Thomas and international rugby referee Nigel Owens are among the stars backing the ‘From Russia with Equal Love’ campaign.

Given Russia’s group, it seems implausible that they would fail to score throughout their home tournament but, just in case, Paddy Power have guaranteed a minimum donation of £50,000.

A spokesperson for Paddy Power said: “Given they invented Russian Dolls, you’d be forgiven for thinking Russia wouldn’t have an issue with women being into other women.

“Likewise, their appreciation for bears is one shared around the world by the LGBT+ population, so it really is astonishing that they have not used their stewardship of this tournament to champion LGBT+ inclusivity.

“As a result, we’ve stepped in to help. When Russia Put-in a goal, we’ll Put-in £10,000 to Attitude magazine’s Foundation, who will use the funds to make football more LGBT+ inclusive. I cannot wait to see the LGBT+ community get behind the Russians – or the Russians’ baffled reaction!”

Darren Styles OBE, publisher of Attitude, said: “When Paddy Power approached us with this idea we leapt at the chance. The LGBT+ community has a long history of reclaiming and adopting behaviours, words and styles that were intended to discriminate against us, so for this tournament we’re adopting Russia.

“The World Cup is meant to be about inclusivity, but thanks to the hosts – and those who chose the hosts – this tournament (and the next, in Qatar) is taking place in a nation with laws that discriminate against the LGBT+ population. 

“This is completely unacceptable and, therefore, we welcome the opportunity to benefit from any Russian success and make unwitting allies of their national team. It will be hugely satisfying to see a goal from Russia send a message of equal love.” 

Russia kick off their World Cup campaign against Saudia Arabia at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium 16.00 BST on Thursday (June 14), and those in the UK can follow the coverage on ITV and BBC 5 Live.