Gjert Moldestad is a former spokesman for the Norwegian Supporter Alliance (NSA). He believes that what the football world sees in the World Cup today is reminiscent of the battle he himself fought in Norway in 2014 and 2015.
In that period, both clubs and individual prisoners tried to highlight gay rights at football matches in Norway. In 2015, among others, Brann wanted to use the rainbow flag as a corner flag, but was refused by the Norwegian Football Association (NFF).
The year before, Moldestad and a couple of his friends wanted to mark with a rainbow flag at an international match against Russia at Ullevaal, and therefore contacted the NFF.
– We received no response from the NFF, but suddenly we were contacted by the police who said that if we showed up with a rainbow flag, we would be escorted away, says Moldestad.
“Poor” dialogue with the NFF
He still went to the match, but Moldestad says that they were told for a long time that they were not allowed to enter the stadium with rainbow flags. Today he remembers it as “a dramatic day”.
After finally getting in touch with the management of the NFF on the day of the match, they were allowed in, but the committed football supporter experienced the dialogue with the Norwegian Football Association as “bad”.
– At the time, I perceived the NFF as old-fashioned and backward, and perhaps a little uninformed. It was a taboo in football. We talked a lot about racism, but we didn’t talk so much about LGBT, says Moldestad.
The then football president Yngve Hallén remembers the match against Russia in 2014 well.
– It was a match where there was a lot of dialogue beforehand, precisely because you wanted to highlight the equality of the match. Perhaps aimed at Russia in particular, he says to NRK.
A self-critical Hallén admits that the NFF should have acted in a different way in 2014.
– Seen both then and afterwards, it’s embarrassing, and the way we shouldn’t act. What is, is that we politicized everything, and said that everything was politics because we were afraid of conflict, and not being a good host.
On 1 June 2015, the NFF turned around and allowed Brann, among others, to have rainbow flags in the stadium. But rainbow markings still face resistance, also in football Europe. In June 2021, Uefa said no to rainbow markings at the Allianz Arena in Germany.
When asked if the NFF was too backward, as Moldestad perceived, the former football president admits that the NFF was too conservative.
– It was about us showing respect for those we were hosting, and in retrospect one has to say that this was completely wrong. Fortunately, we managed to handle it then, but we have certainly handled this too poorly historically, says Hallén.
– Desperate how they act
Moldestad believes that the answers he received in 2014 and 2015 are reminiscent of the answers given during the WC today.
– Fifa has done all those who want football in a good direction a great service, because now we see that the way Fifa behaves, you get a backlash. In sum, it may well be that when we come a little further in time and look back on this matter (with Fifa), we may see that this was a very important date for a good change in football. At least I hope so.
Hallén disagrees with this comparison, and he is upset with how Fifa is treating the rainbow conflict today.
– It is depressing how they behave, and they clearly use this in a rift where they pit Europe against the rest of the world. It is unfortunately a pattern we have seen before, says the former football president.