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Soccer lover calls D.C. United career ‘very rewarding’

Rory Molleda grew up watching soccer, now he works as a team coordinator for D.C.’s largest team

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Rory Molledo, lgbt, gay news, Washington Blade

Soccer has been a life-long passion for Rory Molleda. (Photo courtesy D.C. United)

Rory Molleda knew growing up that he wanted to work in professional sports. He spent his youth attending D.C. United games and right out of college, he landed an internship with the organization. Six months later, he was offered the position of team coordinator and his lifelong dream came true.

Molleda was born in Venezuela and grew up in a soccer family. His father was a professional soccer player in Spain and Venezuela and his mother played soccer at Virginia Tech. When he was 5, the family moved to Alexandria, Va.

Except for a short stint in ice hockey, his main sport was soccer and he was part of a travel team playing year-round by age 10. When it came time for college, he ended up picking Guilford College, a small liberal arts school in North Carolina.

“It was big switch for me after attending high school at Robinson which has 4,500 students. Guilford has an enrollment of 1,200 and 30 percent of the students are athletes,” Molleda says. “The campus has a hippie feel and it was like living in a bubble. It’s different from the rest of North Carolina.”

Molleda, who plays left midfielder and left wing, didn’t get a lot of game time during his first two years at Guilford. His time spent on the bench didn’t detract from what it meant to him to be part of a team.

“It was great to contribute as a player my last two years,” Molleda says. “But it was those first two years, traveling with the team; it meant just as much to not play.”

He says he had great support from his family who came to games, with his mom often coaching him from the sidelines. During his senior year, his sister began her four-year stint playing soccer for Hofstra University.

After graduating with a sports management and Spanish double major in 2013, he moved back to the area and began his internship with D.C. United in operations, assisting with youth soccer tournaments. He sent his resume out to 60 organizations before the offer came from United. He coordinates the logistics of team travel.

“My office is in the locker room and I get to hang out with professional athletes every day,” Molleda says. “I am also traveling with the team once a month and am the person responsible for setting the players up to succeed in their away games. It’s very rewarding.”

As for his own soccer career, he began playing soccer with Metro Sports shortly after arriving back in the D.C. area. In 2016, he spotted the LGBT-based Federal Triangles Soccer Club at Capital Pride and signed up for a couple of their teams in the District Sports leagues. This past summer he played in their Summer of Freedom league for the first time.

“I didn’t come out until after college and I had no idea that gay soccer was a thing,” Molleda says. “It is special to have so much in common with a group of people. Joining the Federal Triangles has had a positive impact on me and has changed my life.”

Along with playing several nights a week with the Triangles, Molleda also gets to play soccer at work once a week with office workers, trainers and coaches. He initially struggled with what it meant to be gay in the world of professional sports but has taken some inspiration from openly gay LA Galaxy player Robbie Rogers.

“A co-worker asked about the HRC sticker on my car and I lied,” Molleda says. “Since that moment I don’t live in fear anymore. I am just living my life and doing the things I want to do.”

Molleda says that making an announcement at work would be a distraction from the team and he prefers to let it happen naturally. Recently three United players walked by while he was in line at Nellie’s Sports Bar and they just waved and said, “Hey.”

“There have been support moments, especially from Ben Olsen (United head coach), and I consider that a good affirmation of acceptance,” Molleda says. “We all want normalcy in our sports environment and I am incredibly happy to be a part of this team.”

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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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