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War of words erupts after US journalist Grant Wahl 'detained' at Qatar World Cup 2022 stadium over LGBTQ shirt

American journalist Grant Wahl says he was detained by security staff after he wore a rainbow shirt to USA’s Qatar World Cup 2022 opener against Wales in Doha's Al Rayyan Stadium on Monday night.

football War of words erupts after US journalist grant wahl detained at Qatar World Cup 2022 stadium over rainbow lgbtq shirt snt
First Published Nov 22, 2022, 1:39 AM IST

An American journalist on Monday reported that security guards denied him entry into USA's Qatar World Cup 2022 opener against Wales, stating that the t-shirt bearing rainbow colours in support of the LGBTQ community was 'not allowed'.

Also read: 'Homosexuality is haram': Qatar World Cup 2022 ambassador Khalid Salman's comments sparks boycott demands

Grant Wahl, a CBS employee, was going to the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan to cover the match between the United States and Wales on Monday night as both teams kicked off their Group B campaigns. However, he could not do so because of his clothing, which he displayed in a picture posted on his Twitter account, which included a football surrounded by rainbow-striped colours.

"Security guard refusing to let me into the stadium for USA-Wales," Wahl tweeted. "You have to change your shirt. It's not allowed,'" he reported the guard telling him.

Security guards stopping the American journalist over his rainbow t-shirt came hours after England, Wales, Germany and other European nations were prevented from wearing the 'One Love' armband by FIFA.

Wahl has previously tweeted guidelines by FIFA on how stadium security should handle particular topics, such as flags or rainbow-coloured shirts.

Also read: Peter Drury, finally! Fans elated to hear iconic commentator during Senegal vs Netherlands World Cup 2022 tie

According to those FIFA rules, "general statements in favour of positive values enshrined in the Fifa Statutes, such as human rights and anti-discrimination, are permitted."

In a graphic, there are "flags, shirts [or] shoelaces" that show, among other things, the universal colour schemes for pride and the acceptance of transgender people, as well as more specialised ones that offer support for Iranian women or Black Lives Matter.

Another Qatar World Cup 2022 branded graphic states "persons displaying the LGBTQI+ rights rainbow or other sexual identity flags will neither be approached, detained or prosecuted."

The message that this will be an inclusive World Cup finals has been pushed frequently by FIFA and the host nation, but ongoing regulatory changes at the last minute have consistently prevented teams from demonstrating, promoting, or supporting that strategy. 

A little more than an hour after the initial tweet, Wahl tweeted again to let everyone know that he had successfully entered the building without making any changes.

"I'm OK, but that was an unnecessary ordeal," he said. "Am in the media center, still wearing my shirt. Was detained for nearly half an hour. Go gays."

Grant Wahl's tweet, however, has sparked a massive war of words on Twitter, with some users mocking him for even daring to wear a rainbow t-shirt, while a few slammed Qatar once again for their approach towards the LGBTQ+ community.

Also read: Qatar World Cup 2022, ENG vs IRN: Supporters applaud as England pounds Iran 6-2

"Yell me that Qatar was a terrible choice for an international event w/o telling me that Qatar was a terrible choice for an international event," wrote Fr. Robert Ballecer, SJ on the micro-blogging site.

Ghanem Nuseibeh, Founder Cornerstone Global Associates remarked, "Qatar is a disgrace. He is not a player. Qatar lied when it said everyone is welcome. What is @FIFAWorldCup  excuse now?"

"As a Qatari I'm proud of what happened. 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," wrote Nayef bin Nahar in support of the action taken by the stadium's security guards.

"What do they do in Qatar when #nature provides a rainbow?" asked another user on Twitter. "It's funny how you, a Western Leftie, thought you could somehow force a change in a country whose traditions and beliefs about these issues have been literally unchanged since the 7th Century AD," stated another Twitter user.

Here's a look at some of the other reactions:

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