Orlando City pay heartfelt tribute to Pulse shooting victims on new stadium's opening night

The Major League Soccer club's new ground also has 49 rainbow-coloured seats dedicated to the mass shooting's 49 victims

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Supporters of Orlando City opened the club’s new stadium with a tribute to the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting, which claimed the lives of 49 LGBT people.

The Major League Soccer club played their first game at the Orlando City Stadium on Sunday, beating New York City FC courtesy of Cyle Larin’s first-half strike.

Prior to kick-off, fans in the stadium’s safe-standing section unfurled a 120x60ft banner depicting three Greek gods, including the goddess of love Aphrodite, which featured a subtle reference to the victims of the deadliest mass shooting by a single killer in the history of the United States.

“This stadium is a gift ... and that gift comes from the gods,” Eric Clinton, one of the supporters who organised the banner display, told the Orlando Sentinel while explaining the choice of design.

“If you looked really closely, Aphrodite’s hair was a rainbow,” he added. “It was kind of a tribute to the community and the Pulse [nightclub] incident. We wanted to try to incorporate that as much as possible.”

In January, Orlando City revealed that the new stadium would include 49 rainbow-coloured seats in a prominent position, honouring the victims of last year’s attack.

The seats have subsequently been sold to season ticket holders with the expectation that they will be occupied every time the club plays at home.

Phil Rawlins, Orlando City’s president, said upon the seats’ unveiling: “We made a commitment … which is that we would commemorate, forever, in the new stadium a memory of the 49 victims that lost their lives that day.”

The shooting was carried out by Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, who pledged his allegiance to Isis during a call to 9-1-1 during the shooting.

Mateen was killed in a shootout with local police on the night of the attack.

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