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Locals win big at EuroGames

Despite event disorganization, swimmers triumph in Stockholm

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EuroGames, gay news, Washington Blade
EuroGames, gay news, Washington Blade

Members of the D.C. Aquatics Club took home 125 medals from the EuroGames. (Photo courtesy Kevin Majoros)

Athletes from three of the local LGBT sports teams returned home this week from the 2015 EuroGames in Stockholm, Sweden. About 30 swimmers, 12 water polo players and two bowlers from D.C. competed in the event which attracted more than 5,000 athletes from 51 countries who contested events in 27 sports.

For the swimmers, the event also doubled as the annual International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics world championships. After the races in the pool ended, the District of Columbia Aquatics Club (DCAC) was in possession of 125 medals.

The Washington Wetskins Water polo players got off to a rough start but finished strong to take fifth place in the competitive division of water polo.

DCAC awarded multiple scholarships to swimmers on the team to assist in the costs associated with international travel. One of the recipients was 22-year-old Kevin Muehleman who is from Dallas and attended college at Louisiana State University. He moved to D.C. in February and joined the DCAC team the next month. The EuroGames marked his first time competing in the pool since high school, though he did swim the two-mile open water race in the DCAC hosted Swim for Life in July.

“I didn’t play sports while I was in college,” says Muehleman, who is working in the MBA office of admissions at Georgetown University. “It has been great being a part of the DCAC team and getting back into shape.”

Meuhleman’s youthful exuberance hasn’t gone unnoticed by his teammates who have dubbed him with the nickname, Baby Kev. He says he is hoping to recruit more swimmers around his age to line up relays to help the team score points at big meets. His scholarship paid for the registration fees and air travel to Stockholm and he is already planning his trip with the team to the world championships in Edmonton, Canada in 2016.

“This has been a great experience and I finally got to know my teammates. There isn’t time to make these connections in practice,” Muehleman says. “It is going to be much more fun going forward now that I have some history with the team.”

LGBT multi-sport events such as the EuroGames, the Gay Games and the OutGames are well known for fostering positive attention for the LGBT sports movement and for human rights. It was both heartwarming and disturbing when the Russian LGBT Sport Federation marched in during the opening ceremonies which were televised live on Swedish national television.

One of the athletes had her face covered in a bandana for fear of repercussions upon returning home. Her masked presence indicates that the LGBT climate in Russia is not progressing as rapidly as the rest of the world and that much work still needs to be done. The fact that their LGBT athletes continue to participate in these events, despite what is going on in their homeland, is a positive sign.

In terms of the sports competitions at the EuroGames, Stockholm did not receive glowing reviews and there was drama at the sports venues on a daily basis. Clearly unorganized, the city was not prepared to welcome athletes from all over the world. The volleyball players refused to play at their venue because it was not regulation and there were issues with track & field, squash, basketball, dance sport, swimming and water polo.

The worst possible thing happened on Thursday night at midnight when the triathlon was cancelled just hours before it was to be held early Friday morning. Imagine dragging your expensive bike halfway across the world only to be told you can’t race. Not to mention the costs involved.

The swimming venue was complete chaos for three days. The order of swimmers was juggled right up to the moments they stepped on the blocks. Swimmers were also forced to compete two to a lane in the distance events and in those same races had to start in the water instead of going off the blocks. On day two, they moved both the long distance events (800 and 1,500 freestyles) to the same session and the swimmers were at the pool from 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

The chaos led a European team to believe they could get away with combining swimmers from their teams (which is illegal) to win a relay gold medal. They did win the gold medal and another team noticed the false representation. A protest was filed and they were stripped of their medal. That resulted in a screaming match between a female swim official and the offending male coach which progressed into a shoving match. The swimmers were ejected from the pool.

Public apologies were issued by EuroGames Stockholm for the all the venues and the Stockholm Dolphins swim team in regard to the aquatics events. Both denied any responsibility for the missteps. The bottom line is that these are amateur athletes who trained and traveled at their own expense. No one is saying that it is easy to orchestrate multi-sports events, but in this case, the athletes deserved better. Thankfully, everyone was still smiling at the closing ceremonies.

List of the DCAC medal winners:

Steve Dickens 1 Silver

Candace Crasto 4 Gold, 2 Silver, 2 Bronze

John Crowe 1 Silver

Shannon Green 2 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze

Eric Czander 3 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze

Sara Hewitt 2 Gold, 4 Silver, 2 Bronze

Wonkee Moon 1 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze

Lindsey Warren-Shriner 3 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze

Jay Calhoun 3 Gold, 4 Silver

Noura Hemady 3 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze

Dustin Sigward 1 Gold, 3 Silver

Craig Franz 4 Gold, 1 Silver

John Tustin 2 Silver, 1 Bronze

Andrew Frampton 2 Gold, 3 Silver

Neill Williams 6 Gold, 1 Silver

Paul Quincy 2 Gold, 2 Silver, 2 Bronze

Dawson Nash 1 Gold, 2 Silver, 4 Bronze

Kevin Muehleman 1 Silver, 1 Bronze

Patrick Barrett 1 Gold, 2 Silver

Fred Dever 3 Gold, 3 Silver, 2 Bronze

Molly Lincoln 5 Gold, 1 Silver

Rob Jeter 1 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze

Jonathan Horsford 1 Silver

Sam Smedinghoff 2 Bronze

Jason Bricker 2 Silver, 1 Bronze

Kevin Majoros 1 Bronze

Rebecca Menes 1 Silver, 2 Bronze

Jeff Mead 1 Gold, 1 Bronze

Brent Quinn 1 Bronze

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Protester with Pride flag disrupts World Cup game

Protest took place during match between Portugal and Uruguay

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(Al Jazeera screenshot)

During a World Cup match between Portugal and Uruguay Monday, a lone protester ran across the field waving a Pride flag moments after the second half kickoff.

Video and still images show the man wearing a blue T-shirt emblazoned with the Superman symbol and the phrase “Save Ukraine” on the front and “Respect for Iranian Woman” on the back.

Screenshot of news coverage at the World Cup 2022 games from Al Jazeera

Qatari security personnel chased him down and then marched him off the playing field. Israeli Public Radio correspondent Amichai Stein tweeted video clips of the incident:

FIFA had no immediate comment on the incident, the Associated Press noted reporting that in the first week of the tournament in Qatar, seven European teams lost the battle to wear multi-colored “One Love” armbands during World Cup matches. Fans also complained they weren’t allowed to bring items with rainbow colors, a symbol of LGBTQ rights, into the stadiums of the conservative Islamic emirate.

Qatar’s laws against homosexuality and treatment of LGBTQ people were flashpoints in the run-up to the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East. Qatar has said everyone was welcome, including LGBTQ fans, but that visitors should respect the nation’s culture.

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Blinken criticizes FIFA threat to fine World Cup team captains with ‘one love’ armbands

Qatar criminalizes homosexuality by death

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday criticized FIFA over its threat to sanction European soccer teams if their captains wore “one love” armbands during the 2022 World Cup.

“It’s always concerning from my perspective when we see any restrictions on freedom of expression. It’s especially so when the expression is for diversity and for inclusion,” Blinken told reporters during a press conference with Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Doha, the Qatari capital. “And in my judgment, at least, no one on a football pitch should be forced to choose between supporting these values and playing for their team.”

Seven European soccer teams on Monday announced their captains will not wear LGBTQ and intersex armbands during the 2022 World Cup after FIFA threatened to sanction them.

The captains of Belgium, Denmark, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Wales had planned to wear the armbands in support of the LGBTQ and intersex community during the World Cup. The teams on Monday in a joint statement said they would not wear the armbands because FIFA had threatened to sanction them if their captains did.

The World Cup began in Qatar on Sunday.

Qatar is among the handful of countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain punishable by death. A report that Human Rights Watch published last month noted several cases of “severe and repeated beatings” and “sexual harassment” of LGBTQ and intersex people while in police custody from 2019 and September 2022. 

A State Department official last week acknowledged to the Washington Blade that the U.S. raised LGBTQ and intersex rights with the Qatari government ahead of the World Cup.

The U.S. men’s soccer team while in Qatar will have a redesigned logo with the Pride flag in its badge. Blinken attended their match against Wales on Monday.

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European soccer teams won’t wear ‘one love’ armbands after FIFA threatens sanctions

World Cup began in Qatar on Sunday

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Iran plays England during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Nov. 21, 2022. (Screenshot via FS1)

Seven European soccer teams on Monday announced their captains will not wear LGBTQ and intersex armbands during the 2022 World Cup after FIFA threatened to sanction them.

The captains of Belgium, Denmark, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Wales planned to wear “one love” armbands during the World Cup. The teams in a joint statement said FIFA threatened to sanction them if their captains wore them.

“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play,” read the statement. “We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision, which we believe is unprecedented.”

“As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings,” added the statement.

The World Cup began in Qatar on Sunday.

Qatar is among the handful of countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain punishable by death.

Human Rights Watch last month published a report that noted “arbitrary” arrests of LGBTQ and intersex people between 2019 and September 2022 and several cases of “severe and repeated beatings” and “sexual harassment in police custody” during the aforementioned period. World Cup Ambassador Khalid Salman earlier this month described homosexuality as “damage in the mind” during an interview with a German television station.

Peter Tatchell, a British activist, on Oct. 25 protested the country’s LGBTQ and intersex rights record while standing outside the National Museum of Qatar in Doha, the country’s capital. A State Department official on Nov. 18 acknowledged to the Washington Blade that the U.S. raised LGBTQ and intersex rights with the Qatari government ahead of the World Cup.

The U.S. men’s soccer team while in Qatar will have a redesigned logo with the Pride flag in its badge. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will attend their match against Wales on Monday.

England played Iran on Monday. The Netherlands on Monday will play Senegal.

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