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David Gough Blasts GAA Ban On Mayo Rainbow Jerseys

David Gough Blasts GAA Ban On Mayo Rainbow Jerseys
By Eoin Harrington Updated
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The contentious decision by the GAA to block Mayo from wearing rainbow numbers on their jerseys for next year's Allianz League continues to earn the association backlash.

Mayo made the request to have player's numbers designed with the rainbow flag, in partnership with charity partner Mindspace Mayo.

The GAA, however, rejected the request, saying that the playing kit was "sacrosanct".

David Gough, the first openly gay male referee in the association's history, has now spoken out about the call.

Gough said that he was disappointed with the GAA's decision, calling it "abhorrent" and pointing out the subtle hypocrisies of their stance.

Mayo: David Gough slams GAA's call on rainbow numbers

David Gough has been a powerful voice for LGBTQ+ rights within the GAA since coming out as gay in 2015.

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That year, his request to wear a Pride wristband for the Allianz League clash was rejected by the GAA, earning the association widespread criticism ahead of the marriage referendum.

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In 2020, and again this summer, Gough wore rainbow laces while refereeing championship games at Croke Park, in unity with the pride movement.

26 June 2022; Referee David Gough wearing Pride laces on his boots at the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Armagh and Galway at Croke Park, Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

The most recent instance came during his officiating of this year's All-Ireland senior football quarter-finals at Croke Park, on the weekend of Dublin's Pride festival.

Speaking on the GAA's decision to block Mayo's rainbow numbers, Gough couldn't hide his disappointment.

He called the decision "abhorrent" and said he had been disheartened by the lack of support for the LGBTQ+ community by the GAA.

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I think it’s an abhorrent decision by the GAA. It was disheartening to wake up to a text message to say that there had been a refusal to allow Mayo to wear rainbow coloured numbers on the back of their jerseys in support of the LGBT community and, in particular, their own partner in charity in Mayo.

I saw their statement and they said that the playing gear was sacrosanct, and I think was an unwise choice of words. I’ve studied Latin and I understand that sacrosanct means most sacred or holy. Now, I suppose what they’re trying to say is that the regard to jerseys is too important or too valuable to be interfered with, but to state that your jerseys might be hallowed by sacred right is a bit strange.

Gough would go on to point out that the GAA had allowed charity campaigns to appear on jerseys in the past, and suggested that their decision to block a show of support "singled out" the LGBTQ+ comunity:

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A precedent has been set before where we’ve had Dublin in the championship playing against Westmeath with Pieta House on their jerseys. We had Cork wearing jerseys in the National League for Mercy Hospital Foundation, we had Carlow wearing something for suicide awareness and even up in Derry, Joe Brolly’s Opt For Life campaign appeared on the jerseys in the championship back in 2013.

So precedent had been set beforehand and it’s just strange to see that they’re singling out the LGBT community.

Powerful voices from one of the biggest LGBTQ+ voices in the GAA, and you sense this discussion will rumble on right up until Mayo get their league campaign under way - rainbow numbers or not.

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