Over a Rainbow: How a bucket hat ignited a much-needed conversation about diversity in Qatar

Weber Shandwick

Client: Welsh Government

Wales qualifying for the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 64 years, provided the nation with a unique opportunity to put it on the world map. In a tournament and host nation shrouded in global debate and controversy around human rights, particularly for the world’s LGBTQ+ community, Wales took the decision to illustrate its allyship by projecting its own values of inclusivity and diversity.

Wales made the move to demonstrate the nation’s commitment to inclusivity to the rest of the world, bringing together a group of influential ambassadors or ‘Lleisau Cymru’, including LGBTQ+ representation from ex Olympian Colin Jackson, Women’s International Football Captain Jess Fishlock, and ex Women’s International Captain and Cardiff University Professor Laura McCallister. When Laura McAllister was asked to remove her rainbow hat at Wales’ first game – a colourful striped version of Wales supporters’ iconic bucket-shaped hats – there was an opportunity to visually highlight Wales’ solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community around the world, provide a voice for many others and to enforce change at the tournament. We stayed true to values of equality and diversity and took a stand when many others weren’t in a high-pressure situation and at the centre of a global media storm, driving a consistent narrative which led to hundreds of pieces of coverage in the world’s agenda-setting titles. However, the real result was that our work led to an official announcement from FIFA just two days later to officially reassure people that rainbow items would be allowed in future games.