Days since the start of the World Cup on Sunday, the security of the stadium and the community has asked American and Welsh fans to hide the rainbow-colored items from public view, fans say, in official areas and on the subway. In some cases, fans said they were denied entry to games unless they removed the rainbow logo, although others said they were able to bring the rainbow logo into the stadium without any problems.
FIFA officials have tried for years to allay fears that LGBTQ fans traveling to Qatar, a conservative Muslim state that punishes homosexuality with prison terms, would face discrimination. “Let me repeat clearly: Everyone will be welcome in the tournament, regardless of origin, origin, religion, gender, sexuality or nationality,” Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, said a month before the tournament did not start, emphasizing the promises made by other FIFA leaders as well as the head of the organizing committee of the World Cup in Qatar.
Reported questions about people wearing the rainbow flag raised the possibility that official guidance on the approval of the symbol did not trickle down to the vast army of volunteers and staff working at the race; or that Qatar, which is afraid of the conservatives’ backsliding, has changed and has an iron fist.
But last week, when Qatar reversed an earlier decision to ban the sale of beer outside World Cup stadiums, FIFA issued a statement announcing the change. There was no such word from FIFA or Qatar about the rainbow flag on Tuesday.
FIFA has already faced criticism for its suppression of LGBTQ symbols. On Monday, the soccer teams representing seven European countries participating in the World Cup announced that their captains will not wear Qatar’s rainbow flag after FIFA said the players would be fined. On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken criticized FIFA’s decision during his visit to Doha, describing it as “relevant”.
Neither FIFA nor Qatari officials immediately responded on Tuesday to a request to clarify the guidelines for fans who want to display the rainbow logo both in official areas of the tournament and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region, where and sex between men is illegal.
Laura McAllister former Welsh professional footballer tweeted that security officials denied her entry to the FIFA stadium on Monday because she was wearing a rainbow-colored fan hat. McAllister said she was told by officers that the rainbow sign was prohibited, she said in an interview with ITV News.
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“When we went through security, some of the guards said we had to take off our hats. When I asked why, they said ‘because it was a prohibited sign and we weren’t allowed to wear it in the airport,'” she said. “They insisted that we were not allowed to enter the field unless we took off our helmets.” She eventually managed to get in under the hood.
In another incident earlier in the same game, American football writer Grant Wahl said he was stopped by a security guard wearing a rainbow shirt. Wahl later said he was detained for half an hour for “unnecessary trouble” but was eventually allowed to enter the stadium. “Gays go,” he said wrote on Twitter with a rainbow emoji, share a picture of the shirt.
According to the guidelines shared by FIFA last week, football fans are advised to be free to show their identity in official competition areas without any repercussions. “There is no danger; they are welcome to express themselves; they are welcome to show their love for their partners,” Gerdine Lindhout, FIFA’s head of fan experience, told ITV News Wednesday. “They won’t get into trouble showing love to the public.”
At the time, FIFA clarified that its guidelines do not apply to areas outside the official competition areas, where the rules are not clear.
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On Monday, football fan Justin Martin said he was confronted several times by subway passengers as he traveled to the Wales-US game carrying a small rainbow flag, including two men in volunteer uniforms. Catch up on FIFA. Five people asked him to remove the sign during the entire train ride, Justin Martin told The Washington Post in a telephone interview, and one passenger became angry when he refused to hide the flag.
Martin, a journalism professor who lives in Qatar, said he does not identify as LGBTQ but was wearing a sign to show support for queer groups when he was repeatedly asked to do so by other passengers.
“I was standing on the train with the sign in my hand, using my phone. I was approached by two young FIFA volunteers wearing maroon t-shirts with ‘Volunteer’ on the back and encouraged me to raise the flag to respect the local culture. ” When he refused, Martin said one of the volunteers became angry and called it “disgusting.”
Minutes later, Martin said, another passenger angrily asked him again to remove the small sign, also getting angry and using his body to intimidate Martin when he refused. “He physically got into my position and I was pushed against the train door,” Martin said, adding that the person followed him around the subway car while filming.
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A football fan who witnessed the exchange confirmed Martin’s account of the confrontation with The Post in an exclusive interview.
Two other members of the public also approached Martin during his trip to ask him to remove the sign, Martin added.
“I am sad. I am afraid to bring my brand to the USA vs England game on Friday,” he said. “It doesn’t feel good,” he added, also stressing that his experience of feeling unsafe is not representative of his wider experience in Qatar.
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The reports added that FIFA is under pressure to manage LGBTQ rights and show support for the community during the tournament, at a time when the rainbow has become a special symbol.
On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken directly criticized the body’s decision to punish international footballers with yellow cards if they wear rainbow symbols in support of diversity and inclusion – saying it puts athletes at risk. the world is an impossible place. Two yellow cards will result in a player being sent off.
The decision caused the seven captains of the European World Cup, those of England, Wales, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark, to jet “OneLove” as a symbol of unity among LGBTQ people.
“It’s always concerning in my view when we see something restricting freedom of expression; especially when the expression is about diversity and inclusion,” Blinken said at a joint press conference in the capital Doha, along with the minister of affairs. outside Qatar Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.
“No football player should have to choose between supporting these values and playing for their team,” Blinken said.
Sands reported from London; Hudson from Doha, Qatar. Kareem Fahim in Doha contributed to this report.
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