Qatari regime clamps down on LGBT fans in rainbow hats, flags and t-shirts

Qataris launch authoritarian crackdown on LGBT fans in rainbow hats, flags and t-shirts: Officials tell supporters they are enforcing anti-gay laws ‘for their own safety’- as Harry Redknapp wades in to growing row over protests at World Cup

  • Qatar accused of stopping female football fans wearing rainbow bucket hats at the Wales vs USA match
  • US sports journalist Grant Wahl was refused entry to a World Cup match in Qatar over a rainbow T-shirt
  • Security guards ‘aggressively demanded’ he remove his top, claiming it was for his own safety in the stadium
  • A Qatari academic praised the actions of the guards and slammed ‘westerners’, saying he is ‘proud’ of actions
  • Gay relationships are illegal in Qatar but FIFA allowed rainbow flags and clothing allowed for fans at games 
  • But captains who wear the rainbow armbands threatened with bookings – with Harry Kane deciding against 
  • Visitors have been urged to respect Qatar’s conservative society and customs including modest clothing
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

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Qatar’s conservative regime has been clamping down on pro-LGBT football fans with rainbow bucket hats, T-shirts and flags as Harry Redknapp had his say and declared: ‘If you feel that strongly don’t play or don’t go’.

The farcical row over Harry Kane and other captains facing a ban from the pitch for wearing a rainbow armband has spilled over to the stadiums of Doha.

Last night former Wales captain Laura McAllister was among female football fans who were ‘told to take off their rainbow bucket hats’ at the Qatari stadium ahead of the Dragons’ first match. Men, however, were allowed to keep them on.

US football reporter Grant Wahl was stopped by security at the same match and ordered to take off his rainbow T-shirt. He refused and the Qatari officials questioned him before they eventually backed down. One security guard told him that they were protecting him from fans inside who might’ve attacked him for wearing the shirt.

FIFA has made it clear that rainbows on clothing and flags is not prohibited in stadiums – but have acted to prevent protests on the pitch. Organisers of the Qatar World Cup and Qatari cultural groups have also urged visitors to respect their customs and religious rules. These including no drinking or swearing in public, wearing modest clothes and no public displays of affection. LGBT people are criminalised and they have also faced discrimination and violence.

Harry Kane did not wear his ‘One Love’ armband during England’s game against Iran because of the threat of a yellow card after orders from the FA. The England captain had previously said he was determined to put it on, and was accused of ‘bottling it’.

On the sidelines former England footballer Alex Scott, now a BBC broadcaster, wore the armband during a live broadcast.

Veteran football manager Harry Redknapp told LBC today that he backed Kane’s pro LGBT stance, but suggested he believes it will make no difference in Qatar.

He said: ‘I agree with Harry Kane. But we’ve gone to their country – If you feel that strongly don’t play or don’t go. I don’t know whether wearing the armband will change anything in that country. It’s their country and that’s how they want to run it. I just want to get on and enjoy the football. But a yellow card for wearing an armband is ridiculous’.

But former Ireland and Manchester United captain Roy Keane believes England and Wales made a ‘big mistake’ in backing down.

He said: ‘I think the players could have done it for the first game – took the punishment, whatever that might be. If it’s Kane you’re risking getting a yellow card, but that would have been a great statement.

‘Do it for the first game, get your yellow card and what a message that would have been. Take your medicine and in the next game you move on. You don’t wear it because you don’t want to get suspended but, I think it was a big mistake because both players – Wales and England – should have stuck to their guns and done it. No matter the pressure from the outside and the associations, have the belief, if that’s what you believe, then go with it.’

Former Wales captain Laura McAllister was among female football fans who were 'told to take off their rainbow bucket hats' at the Qatari stadium ahead of the Dragons' first match with the US last night

Former Wales captain Laura McAllister was among female football fans who were ‘told to take off their rainbow bucket hats’ at the Qatari stadium ahead of the Dragons’ first match with the US last night

US sports journalist Grant Wahl (pictured) was initially refused entry to a World Cup match in Doha, Qatar and had security guards 'aggressively demand' he remove his rainbow shirt. He was told it was for his own safety

US sports journalist Grant Wahl (pictured) was initially refused entry to a World Cup match in Doha, Qatar and had security guards ‘aggressively demand’ he remove his rainbow shirt. He was told it was for his own safety

Wales' Rainbow Wall, a group of LGBTQ+ supporters, said male supporters wearing the hats were allowed to keep them but the accessories were taken from women

Wales’ Rainbow Wall, a group of LGBTQ+ supporters, said male supporters wearing the hats were allowed to keep them but the accessories were taken from women

Fans have been urged to cover up and wear modest clothing at the World Cup

Fans have been urged to cover up and wear modest clothing at the World Cup

Fans (pictured yesterday) have been urged to cover up and wear modest clothing at the World Cup 

FIFA says team captains could face a booking and potential suspension if they go through with a decision to wear the OneLove rainbow armband (pictured, England captain Harry Kane)

FIFA says team captains could face a booking and potential suspension if they go through with a decision to wear the OneLove rainbow armband (pictured, England captain Harry Kane)

Wales’ Rainbow Wall, a group of LGBTQ+ supporters, have tweeted that female supporters wearing rainbow bucket hats have had them confiscated. 

Former national team captain Laura McAllister, now a professor at Cardiff University, told ITV News that security guards said her hat was ‘a banned symbol’, however she managed to sneak it through in her handbag. 

She said: ‘I pointed out that FIFA had made lots of comments about supporting LGBT rights in this tournament, and said to them that coming from a nation where we’re very passionate about equality for all people, I wasn’t going to take my hat off.’

‘They were insistent that unless I took the hat off we weren’t actually allowed to come into the stadium.’

McAllister added: ‘I think we’ve had plenty of warning that this wasn’t going to be a tournament where human rights, LGBT rights and women’s rights were going to be well respected, but coming from a nation like Wales, we were very keen that we still took a stand coming here.’

She also wrote on Twitter: ‘So, despite fine words from @FIFAWorldCup before event, @Cymru rainbow bucket hats confiscated at stadium, mine included.

‘I had a conversation about this with stewards – we have video evidence. This WorldCup2022 just gets better but we will continue stand up for our values.’

It comes as England captain Harry Kane revealed he had no say in the decision to scrap plans to wear a ‘One Love’ armband in their game against Iran. 

McAllister, now a professor at Cardiff University, told ITV News that security guards said her hat was 'a banned symbol', however she managed to sneak it through in her handbag

McAllister, now a professor at Cardiff University, told ITV News that security guards said her hat was ‘a banned symbol’, however she managed to sneak it through in her handbag

She said: 'I pointed out that FIFA had made lots of comments about supporting LGBT rights in this tournament, and said to them that coming from a nation where we're very passionate about equality for all people, I wasn't going to take my hat off'

She said: ‘I pointed out that FIFA had made lots of comments about supporting LGBT rights in this tournament, and said to them that coming from a nation where we’re very passionate about equality for all people, I wasn’t going to take my hat off’

She also wrote on Twitter : 'So, despite fine words from @FIFAWorldCup before event, @Cymru rainbow bucket hats confiscated at stadium, mine included'

She also wrote on Twitter : ‘So, despite fine words from @FIFAWorldCup before event, @Cymru rainbow bucket hats confiscated at stadium, mine included’

The bucket hat has become the must-have accessory for Wales fans over the past decade.

The yellow, green and red hats are worn in their thousands by the so-called ‘Red Wall’, with a rainbow version also produced.

Wales’ Rainbow Wall wrote: ‘Our rainbow bucket hat. We are so proud of them, but news on the ground tonight is our welsh female supporters wearing them in Qatar are having them taken off them, not the men, just women.

‘@Fifacom are you serious !! #LGBTQRights.’

A US supporter was also threatened on the Metro travelling to the stadium for carrying a small rainbow flag.

The aggressor, who appeared to be a Qatar supporter, threatened to ‘kill’ the man, and said the flag ‘was not allowed’ and ‘that flag is banned in this country’.

‘We have our own culture’, he added.

Wales and US fans, as well as Qatari security guards, intervened to protect the fan carrying the flag, which is a symbol of LGBTQ+ rights and pride.

The bucket hat has become the must-have accessory for Wales fans over the past decade (pictured in the stands for the match against the US)

The bucket hat has become the must-have accessory for Wales fans over the past decade (pictured in the stands for the match against the US)

Wales, along with England and other European nations, earlier confirmed they would not be wearing the anti-discrimination One Love rainbow armbands after governing body Fifa threatened sporting sanctions.

Dyfrig Hills, a 32-year-old teacher from North Wales, said he was ‘disappointed’ that Fifa had effectively banned the armbands.

Speaking outside a hotel in Doha where around 1,900 Wales fans gathered before the US game, he said: ‘I’m really disappointed to be honest, I’m disappointed for the countries wanting to wear them and I’m disappointed in Fifa for doing what they’ve done.

‘Also slightly at the associations because I thought they’d still stand up for what we believe in.’

His friend Gareth Dixon, 32, who is a teacher in Qatar, said: ‘I’ve lived here for five years and the change in that time is immeasurable, particularly in terms of the infrastructure.

‘It’s a developing country at the end of the day but I’ve seen the news at home and if I still lived in the UK I’d be angry at what’s happening and saying the same things.’

The two men were holding a sign that read ‘Llywelyn, Glyndwr, Ramsay’, the third name referring to Aaron Ramsay who they claimed was ‘the true Prince of Wales’.

‘Bale gets a lot of the adoration, we think Ramsay deserves some, especially with his blonde hair,’ Mr Hills said.

Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales, said Welsh players would continue to speak out about the rights of LGBTQ+ people.

He said: ‘Welsh players have spoken out, they have spoken out in interviews. The Football Association (of Wales) itself has been absolutely rock solid in saying that they are here to speak up for the values that matter to people in Wales, to human rights, the rights of LGBTQ+ people as well.

‘The fact that they have done that so solidly, I don’t think there’s any reason to imagine that they won’t want to go on doing that.’

Qatari academic Dr Nayef bin Nahar (pictured) praised the security guards for refusing Wahl entry before slamming 'westerners'

Qatari academic Dr Nayef bin Nahar (pictured) praised the security guards for refusing Wahl entry before slamming ‘westerners’

A Qatari academic has slammed an American sports journalist who faced hostility from security guards for wearing a rainbow shirt to a World Cup match in the Gulf State.

Grant Wahl donned a shirt that featured a soccer ball with the colours of the rainbow in support of the LGBTQ community when he tried to enter Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan for the United States versus Wales match on Monday.

But he was instantly stopped by guards at the stadium’s media entrance who ‘aggressively demanded’ he take off his shirt. He claimed one guard told him: ‘You have to change your shirt. It’s not allowed.’ 

The incident led to international uproar – but was defended by outspoken Qatari academic Dr Nayef bin Nahar, who said he was ‘proud of what happened’ and argued that Western values are not ‘universal’. 

Dr Al-Shammari, the director of the Ibn Khaldon Center for Humanities and Social Sciences at Qatar University, tweeted: ‘I don’t know when will the westerners realize that their values aren’t universal. 

‘There are other cultures with different values that should be equally respected. Let’s not forget that the West is not the spokesperson for humanity.’

Mr Wahl described his ordeal on Twitter earlier this week, sharing a picture of himself standing outside a World Cup stadium. 

‘Just now: Security guard refusing to let me into the stadium for USA-Wales,’ he wrote.

The US journalist said a guard then ‘forcibly ripped’ his phone from his hands after he sent out the tweet.

He waited outside the stadium for the next half an hour as the guards continued pressing him to remove his shirt.

‘One security guard told me that my shirt was ‘political’ and not allowed. Another continually refused to give me back my phone. Another guard yelled at me as he stood above me – I was sitting on a chair by now – that I had to remove my shirt,’ he wrote.

Wahl continually refused to remove his shirt and said it wasn’t ‘political’.

‘Eventually, the guards made me stand up, turn around and face the CCTV camera above us,’ Wahl added. 

A security commander approached Wahl, apologised and allowed him to enter the stadium.

As he left the guards, one told him that security were only protecting him from fans inside who might’ve attacked him for wearing the shirt.

Wahl was trying to attend the United States vs Wales match at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar but was denied entry

Wahl was trying to attend the United States vs Wales match at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar but was denied entry

Security guards outside the stadium ordered Wahl to remove the shirt and ripped his phone out of his hands after he sent out a tweet (pictured, security outside Al Bayt Stadium)

Security guards outside the stadium ordered Wahl to remove the shirt and ripped his phone out of his hands after he sent out a tweet (pictured, security outside Al Bayt Stadium)

FIFA has claimed that rainbow flags and clothing would be allowed at World Cup matches.

Many backed Wahl in the comments section and were outraged over the treatment he received.

A rainbow on your clothing is not allowed? The entire ‘opening ceremony’ was about ‘Tolerance & Respect’ What’s going to happen when Teams Wear Rainbow arm bands?’ questioned one. 

Another used said: ‘This country should absolutely not be hosting. FIFA should be ashamed.’ 

‘Quick reminder…Qatar agreed to allow rainbow symbols as part of their agreement with FIFA,’ wrote a third.  

Another added: ‘Putting someone in prison for being who they are is not culture. It’s just barbaric.’

‘I’d respect all other parts of your culture 100% even if I don’t agree with them. But if you want to host a ‘WORLD’ cup be prepared to welcome the world.’

Some social media users told Wahl that he should ‘respect’ Qatar’s culture and rules.

Security eventually let the sports journalist into the stadium after he was detained for more than half an hour (pictured, a security guard outside a Doha hotel)

Security eventually let the sports journalist into the stadium after he was detained for more than half an hour (pictured, a security guard outside a Doha hotel)

The controversial confrontation is the latest in a series of scandals that have plagued this year’s World Cup.

Despite allowing rainbow flags in crowds, FIFA says team captains could face a booking and potential suspension if they go through with a decision to wear the OneLove rainbow armband in a mark of solidarity for the LGBT+ community.

Captains of nine European nations, including USA’s Group B rivals England’s Harry Kane and Wales’ Gareth Bale, were planning to wear the One Love armbands promoting inclusivity and LGBTQ+ rights in Qatar.

England and six European nations since confirmed they will not wear the OneLove armbands in Qatar after FIFA threatened sporting sanctions for those wearing it.

England’s FA had expected a fine for breaching FIFA’s statutes but the prospect of Kane being booked, and hence facing a suspension, was a scenario English football’s governing body were concerned about.

The Three Lions’ talismanic striker did not don the armband in their opening game against Iran in the US’s Group B.

FIFA has strict rules about apparel that can be worn by players and the armband is not allowed under the code.

Captains of nine European nations were planning to wear the armbands in a mark of solidarity for the LGBT+ community

Captains of nine European nations were planning to wear the armbands in a mark of solidarity for the LGBT+ community

Same sex relationships are illegal in Qatar. Male homosexuality is punishable by a prison sentence and same-sex marriages are not recognised by the government. 

The country has received heavy criticism from other nations for its questionable human rights record including its treatment of gay people and women in the lead up to the global sporting event.

Qatar has also been blasted over the deaths of thousands of migrant workers who endured poor working conditions.

Data revealed 6500 migrant workers from countries including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died on construction sites in Qatar since it was announced the country won the right to host the event in 2010. 

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