'Rainbow Russians' – produced with agency Synergy – will donate £10,000 for every goal Russia score to initiatives that make football more inclusive to the LGBT+ community, with a minimum donation of £50,000.
High-profile campaign supporters – who will no doubt now be supporting Russia in today's opening match versus Saudi Arabia – include ex-Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, former rugby star Gareth Thomas and referee Nigel Owens, ex-swimmer Mark Foster, England women's football international Lianne Sanderson, choreographer Louie Spence, and Christopher Biggins.
I’m now a Russia fan! To find out why, check out my video below for @paddypower and then you can show support too via #RainbowRussians COME ON RUSSIA!" #ad For more information, check out: https://t.co/zEEHBeykFL pic.twitter.com/reGGbYRJxm— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) June 13, 2018
Working with Attitude magazine’s Foundation, Paddy Power says the donations will: 'challenge LGBT+ prejudice on and off the field, support footballers and those in the game in coming out, fund educational programmes in schools and colleges and make grass-roots teams safe spaces for LGBT+ players'.
This latest effort comes shortly after another contentious World Cup-related stunt from the bookmaker, which said 'sorry' after a controversial polar bear advert prompted a social media backlash.
Poking the bear
Paddy Power has guaranteed the £50,000 minimum donation despite 'Russia's suspiciously easy group'.
Its eponymous spokesman said: "Given they invented Russian Dolls, you’d be forgiven for thinking Russia wouldn’t have an issue with women being into other women.
"Likewise, their appreciation for bears is one shared around the world by the LGBT+ population, so it really is astonishing that they have not used their stewardship of this tournament to champion LGBT+ inclusivity.
"As a result, we’ve stepped in to help. When Russia 'Put-in' a goal, we’ll Put-in £10,000 to Attitude magazine’s Foundation, who will use the funds to make football more LGBT+ inclusive. I cannot wait to see the LGBT+ community get behind the Russians – or the Russians’ baffled reaction."
Attitude's publisher Darren Styles OBE, added: "When Paddy Power approached us with this idea we leapt at the chance. The LGBT+ community has a long history of reclaiming and adopting behaviours, words and styles that were intended to discriminate against us, so for this tournament we’re adopting Russia.
"The World Cup is meant to be about inclusivity, but thanks to the hosts – and those who chose the hosts – this tournament (and the next, in Qatar) is taking place in a nation with laws that discriminate against the LGBT+ population.
"This is completely unacceptable and, therefore, we welcome the opportunity to benefit from Russia’s success and make unwitting allies of their national team. It will be hugely satisfying to see a goal from Russia send a message of equal love."