Fan Waves Russian Flag, ‘Thought It Would Be Funny’


  • A spectator at the National Women’s Soccer League title game brandished a Russian flag in the crowd.
  • The pro-war “Z” was written on the flag, indicating the fan supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • The person in question “thought it would be funny,” he told women’s soccer writer Katelyn Best.

Nearly 20,000 fans flocked to Washington DC’s Audi Field to take in the 2022 National Women’s Soccer League Championship, but not all of them were there to simply enjoy some of the best soccer on the planet.

After the Portland Thorns clinched their third NWSL title as a franchise, with a 2-0 win against the Kansas City Current, a spectator unfurled a Russian flag in the crowd. The unidentified individual seemed intent on showing support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as evidenced by the fact that the pro-war propaganda “Z” symbol was scrawled on the flag.

As the person seemingly attempted to position himself in the background of official photos or the game’s primetime television coverage, other fans attempted to block the person’s flag with their own paraphernalia — from supporters’ scarves to LGBTQ+ pride flags.


Women’s soccer writer Katelyn Best, who was coincidentally positioned near the individual after the final whistle, initially struggled to receive an explanation for the man’s antics even after asking. Later, Best wrote on Twitter that she learned that “he supports Russia and thought it would be funny” to make a public show of his allegiances.

Best said the spectator almost certainly appeared in her section after the match in an attempt to amplify his pro-Russia message. Earlier in the night, stadium security had made an effort to prevent such movement between various areas of the arena.

But once the game was over, most members of security moved down toward the field to prevent fans from approaching players and staff on the pitch.

Portland Thorns players pose with fans in the background after winning the 2022 NWSL Championship.

Portland Thorns players pose with fans in the background after winning the 2022 NWSL Championship.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Representatives for the NWSL and the Washington Spirit — the NWSL side that calls Audi Field home — did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on the situation. But according to the stadium’s rules as listed on the DC United website, “small banners, flags, and signs are generally allowed within Audi Field.”

“All banners entering Audi Field are subject to inspection,” the guidelines read, adding that the “item may not contain or display obscene/offensive language and/or pictures, as determined by Audi Field management.”

Representatives for Audi Field did not respond to Insider’s inquiry as to whether the Russian flag with the pro-war “Z” would qualify as “obscene” or “offensive.”

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