Qatar launch crackdown on LGBT fans with strict enforcement of laws

World Cup: Players 'should have worn the armbands' says Keane

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Qatar’s repressive regime is preventing football fans from sporting pro-LGBTQ+ clothing at World Cup matches. There have been several high-profile incidents of individuals being told to remove items before attending matches, making a mockery of FIFA’s message that this World Cup is for ‘everyone’.

Former Wales international Laura McAllister had her rainbow-coloured bucket hat confiscated prior to Wales’ Group B clash with USA on Monday night. There was further confusion when Wales’ Rainbow Wall, a group of LGBTQ+ supporters, claimed that men had been allowed to keep their bucket hats but women had theirs taken. 

McAllister tweeted: “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 to stand up for our values.”

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That came after US journalist Grant Wahl claimed to have been detained for 25 minutes prior to a game. He was told he was not able to enter one of the World Cup stadiums sporting a t-shirt that featured a rainbow design. 

It raises further questions over Qatari attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people. Human rights groups have criticised the country over its treatment of the community. Qatar law calls for a prison sentence of one to three years for “inducing or seducing a male or a female in any way to commit illegal or immoral actions”.

Some nations had planned to protest at the World Cup with a ‘OneLove’ captain’s armband which displayed a rainbow-coloured heart. However, seven European nations – including England and Wales – backed down from wearing it after they were threatened with ‘sporting sanctions’ by FIFA.

Instead, BBC pundit Alex Scott wore the armband during the broadcaster’s coverage of the Three Lions’ 6-2 thrashing of Iran. 

Belgium have been banned from having the word ‘love’ embroidered on the back of their shirt. FIFA claims that the shirt was vetoed because it has links to a third party commercial event, the TomorrowLand concert. 

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Former Ireland and Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane believes that captains such as Harry Kane and Gareth Bale should have insisted on wearing the armband. Keane told ITV: “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.”

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