FIFA orders World Cup 2022 stadium security to allow rainbow items; will Qatari authorities oblige?
Qatar World Cup 2022 stadium security staff have been seizing items with rainbow colours and slogans such as “Women. Life. Freedom” from football fans since the start of the showpiece tournament.
A day after Wales and Iran was eliminated from the Qatar World Cup 2022, FIFA on Wednesday publicly announced that rainbow items and banners supporting protests in Iran, in the wake of Mahsa Amini's death in the custody of morality police, would be permitted inside the stadiums.
Stadium security staff, provided by Qatar, have been seizing rainbow-coloured items and banners with 'Women. Life. Freedom.' written by fans trying to enter the venues. In some cases, people were not allowed to enter the venue, while some were rushed out to display their support for the LGBTQ community.
In one instance, a giant England flag with the official three lions symbol in rainbow colours was snatched from a supporter who was present at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium for the victory over Wales on Tuesday night.
Anthony Johnson was sporting a baseball cap and t-shirt with the rainbow-colored official England insignia for Netherland's clash against Qatar. He was led into a secluded room and had to undergo a strip search while unclothed. Additionally, a security guard yelled at him, "You don't respect our culture."
Seven European teams, including Wales, lost the battle to wear multicoloured "One Love" armbands during World Cup games in the first week of the competition. Some supporters claimed they couldn't bring rainbow-coloured items—a representation of LGBTQ rights—into the stadiums of the conservative Islamic emirate.
Tuesday's match between Iran and the United States was emotionally heated among Iranian supporters, some of whom had travelled to Qatar not only to cheer on their side but also to support the protest movement back home with flags and banners.
"FIFA is aware of some incidents where permitted items were not allowed to be displayed at stadiums," football's world body said in a statement on Wednesday. "FIFA has received assurances by authorities that venue commanders have been contacted in relation to the agreed rules and regulations for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022."
Wales and Iran won't participate in any more World Cup games after late-Tuesday results advanced England and the United States from their Group B to the knockout stages.
“FIFA continues to work closely with the Host Country to ensure the full implementation of related regulations and agreed protocols,” FIFA said.
Despite several promises that everyone would be welcomed in the nation, including from FIFA representatives and Qatari World Cup authorities, what has happened during the competition has in no way reflected this.
Despite assurances from the Football Association and other authorities that they would be safe in a nation where same-sex partnerships are illegal, many LGBT+ supporters in England chose not to travel to Qatar for the event.
Back in 2020, World Cup chief executive Nasser Al-Khater insisted that the rainbow symbol for gay pride would be welcome. “When it comes to the rainbow flags in the stadiums, Fifa have their own guidelines, they have their rules and regulations,” he said. “Whatever they may be, we will respect them.”
It remains to be seen if Qatari authorities follows FIFA's orders this time around.