In late June, eight armband designs were revealed that 2023 FIFA World Cup players could choose to wear on the pitch, including “Unite For Indigenous Peoples,” in partnership with United Nations Human Rights, and “Unite For Ending Violence Against Women,” in partnership with UN Women. However, despite the tournament’s theme of “Football Unites the World,” FIFA banned the “OneLove” armband or any armbands including Pride Flag imagery. This is ostensibly without reason; unlike Qatar which hosted the 2022 World Cup, the 2023 host countries Australia and New Zealand don’t criminalize LGBTQ+ people. Players receive a yellow card — a warning that could bar future participation — for wearing rainbow armbands, as was the case at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
On April 8, 2023, UCLA softball had its annual Pride Game against the Oregon State Beavers. I attended the game to see how Pride was celebrated and also sat down with Head Coach Kirk Walker, the first out D1 coach in the country. He also co-founded the Equality Coaching Alliance and the LGBT Sports Coalition to promote inclusion in sports. Walker received a kinesiology degree from UCLA in 1988, then began his softball coaching career immediately after. He is also a skilled athlete in men’s fastpitch softball and has won two national titles playing as a pitcher. With Walker, the Bruins have made it to seven NCAA Championships and 17 Women’s College World Series.