Soccer fans wearing rainbow flags confronted at Qatar’s World Cup 2022


Soccer fans wearing the rainbow, a symbol of LGBTQ inclusion, said they were refused entry to World Cup stadiums and confronted members of the public over the removal of the emblem, despite assurances from soccer’s governing body FIFA that visitors would be allowed to express themselves. Their personalities during the tournament in Qatar.

Stadium security and public officials asked American and Welsh fans to hide rainbow-themed items from public view, fans said in official areas and on the subway. In some cases, fans said they were not allowed into matches unless they picked up rainbow-themed emblems, although others said they were able to carry the rainbow symbol into stadiums without a problem.

Former Welsh professional footballer Laura McAllister he tweeted He said he was denied entry into the FIFA stadium by security officials on Monday because he was wearing a rainbow-themed supporters’ hat. McAllister said the rainbow symbol was banned by officials, according to an interview with ITV News.

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“When we went through security, some guards said we had to take the hat. When we asked why, they said it was a banned symbol and we weren’t allowed to wear it in the stadium.” “They insisted that if I didn’t take the hat, we wouldn’t be allowed into the stadium.” In the end, he was able to hide the hat and get inside.

In a separate incident before the same match, American soccer writer Grant Wahl said he was stopped by security for wearing a shirt with a rainbow on it. Wahl later said he was held for half an hour in an “unnecessary ordeal” but eventually allowed into the stadium. “Gay gays,” he said He wrote on Twitter with a rainbow emoji, sharing a photo of the shirt.

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According to guidelines shared by FIFA as recently as last week, soccer fans are advised to be free to express themselves in official tournament areas without causing any repercussions. “There is no risk; it’s nice to express themselves; they can express their love for their partners,” Gerdine Lindhout, FIFA’s head of fan experience, told ITV News on Wednesday. “They won’t get in trouble for showing affection.”

It was not immediately clear on Tuesday whether the body’s guidance on rainbow symbols had changed or if the policy had been applied unevenly in the opening days of the tournament.

At the time, FIFA clarified that its guidelines did not apply to areas outside official tournament zones, where the rules were less clear.

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On Monday, soccer fan Justin Martin said he was repeatedly confronted by subway passengers as he walked to the Wales-USA match with a small rainbow flag, including by two men wearing the official uniforms of FIFA volunteers. Justin Martin told The Washington Post in a phone interview that a total of five people asked him to remove the symbol during a subway ride, and one passenger was physically agitated when he refused to hide the flag.

Martin, a journalism professor who lives in Qatar, said he does not identify as LGBTQ, but carried the symbol as a show of support for marginalized groups when he was repeatedly asked to remove it by other passengers.

“I was standing on the train with the emblem in my hand and using my phone. “I was approached by two young FIFA volunteers in maroon T-shirts with ‘Volunteer’ written on the back, and they encouraged me to pick up the flag to respect the local culture.” When he refused, Martin says one of the volunteers became agitated and called him “disgusting.”

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Minutes later, Martin said, another passenger angrily asked him to take the small emblem, and when he refused, he became agitated and used his body to intimidate Martin. “He physically entered my space and pushed me against the train door,” said Martin, who later said the man followed her around the subway car while filming her.

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A football fan who witnessed the exchange confirmed Martin’s account of the altercation to The Post in a separate interview.

Martin added that two other members of the public also approached him while on the trip and asked him to remove the symbol.

“I’m not happy. I’m afraid to bring my emblem to the USA-England match on Friday.” “It doesn’t make me feel good,” he added, stressing that his experience of feeling unsafe was not representative of his wider experience of Qatar.

Neither FIFA nor Qatari officials immediately responded to The Post’s request on Tuesday to clarify what the guidelines are for fans who want to display the rainbow symbol, both in official tournament areas and in the Persian Gulf state, where sex between men is illegal.

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The reports add to ongoing pressure over FIFA’s handling of LGBTQ rights and expressions of support for the community during the tournament, where the rainbow has become a particularly feared symbol.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday directly criticized the body’s decision to yellow-card World Cup footballers if they wear rainbow-themed armbands supporting diversity and inclusion – saying it puts the world’s athletes in an impossible position. Two yellow cards result in a player being sent off.

The decision prompted seven European World Cup captains from England, Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark to drop their ‘OneLove’ armbands in solidarity with LGBTQ people.

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“From my point of view, we are always concerned when we see any restrictions on freedom of expression; This is especially so when the expression is for diversity and inclusion,” Blinken said at a joint press conference with Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani in the capital Doha.

“No one on the football field should be forced to choose between upholding these values ​​and playing for their team,” Blinken said.

John Hudson in Doha contributed to this report.

The world championship held in Qatar

Live updates: The World Cup continues on Tuesday in Qatar with one of the greatest players in history and four games to begin defending the title. Follow our live streams, analysis and highlights.

USMNT: Back at the World Cup, the young Americans were content with a 1-1 draw with Wales in their opening Group B game. The US men’s national team will face Group B favorite England, who defeated Iran 6-2, on Friday.

Qatar dispute: Soccer fans wearing the rainbow, a symbol of LGBTQ inclusion, said they were refused entry to World Cup stadiums and confronted members of the public over the removal of the emblem, despite assurances from soccer’s governing body FIFA that visitors would be free. They express their personalities during the tournament in Qatar. According to Human Rights Watch, Qatari officials have arbitrarily arrested and mistreated LGBT people, in some cases as recently as last month.

Group guide: The U.S. men’s national soccer team, led by coach Greg Berhalter and star forward Christian Pulisic, has qualified for the 2022 World Cup, an improvement from a disastrous and underwhelming 2018 campaign. Here’s a closer look at how all the teams in each group stack up.


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