Monday, November 28, 2022

Fifa urges Qatar to ban fans from wearing rainbow symbols in World Cup stadiums

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Ahead of Wales’ draw against USA, fans and journalists reported that clothing with rainbow symbols was confiscated

Fifa has reminded World Cup hosts Qatar of their policy of allowing items bearing the rainbow symbol into stadiums, after some were removed upon entry.

On Monday, several Welsh fans, including former Wales captain Laura McAllister, claimed they confiscated rainbow-colored bucket hats as they entered the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium for the country’s opening game against the USA. Rainbow bracelets and rainbow shoelaces have been removed from other fans, it has been reported.

A American journalist also said he was arrested after attempting to enter the stadium wearing a rainbow t-shirt. The journalist later confirmed that a security guard apologized to him and let him in and that he later received another apology from a Fifa official.

I has learned that following the incidents with the Supreme Committee – the organizers of the World Cup – meetings have taken place where Fifa has made clear its stance that everyone is welcome at the tournament and that no rainbow items should be taken from fans at the venues.

Incidents reported to Fifa from Monday have been addressed, I has been communicated and discussions are ongoing.

Many LGBT+ supporters made the difficult decision to stay away from the World Cup in Qatar because they were unconvinced by promises that they would be welcome in a country where same-sex relationships are a crime punishable by death.

Welsh LGBTQ+ fan group The Rainbow Wall claimed that only women had their hats removed ahead of the USA game. “Not the men, just the women. @FIFAcom ARE YOU SERIOUS!!” they tweeted.

McAllister told BBC Breakfast her treatment was “pretty tough”, although that didn’t stop her from sneaking the hat into the venue.

“I certainly wouldn’t give it up,” she said. “It’s an important symbol of everything we’re about in Welsh football at the moment and hopefully for the nation as a whole.”

The Football Association of Wales launched an investigation into the matter.

“The FAW has gathered information regarding these alleged incidents and will be raising this matter directly with Fifa today (Tuesday),” it said.

There is believed to be video evidence of fans removing the items.

Despite repeated promises by Fifa and Qatar officials that LGBT+ supporters would be welcome at the tournament, this did not prevent Fifa from refusing the captains of seven European teams, including England’s Harry Kane, to wear the OneLove armband to express their support for LGBT+ fans.

The Football Association of England has been criticized for backing down after Fifa made it clear that anyone wearing the armband would be given a yellow card.

After Wales drew with USA, Wales manager Rob Page was asked about the fans who were denied entry. “I wasn’t aware of it,” he said. “It’s a shame they weren’t allowed to bring her in.”

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