DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Except for the competitors for the World Cup title, probably the most hotly contested points within the event in Qatar is over rainbow colours.
Within the first week of the event, seven European groups misplaced the battle to put on multi-colored “One Love” armbands throughout World Cup matches and a few followers complained they weren’t allowed to convey gadgets with rainbow colours, a logo of LGBTQ rights, into the stadiums of the conservative Islamic emirate.
Qatar, the place homosexual intercourse is against the law, confronted intense worldwide scrutiny and criticism within the run-up to the event over rights points, together with questions on whether or not LGBTQ guests would really feel secure and welcome. The Gulf nation has mentioned all are welcome, together with LGBTQ followers, and that it could guarantee security for everybody, no matter background, however that guests ought to respect the nation’s tradition.
Piara Powar, government director of Fare, the anti-discrimination group that’s reporting incidents in and round stadiums to world soccer physique FIFA, mentioned he believes the Qatari hosts felt that the talk about LGBTQ rights has been given an excessive amount of area and that they should clamp down internally.
“We now have talked to them about rainbow flags and the symbolism that it has the world over, not simply in western Europe. There are Latin Individuals who acknowledge that, there are Asians who acknowledge the Delight flag,” Powar mentioned.
Simply earlier than the event began, FIFA stopped plans by seven European groups together with England and Germany to have their captains play with “One Love” anti-discrimination armbands, saying they might obtain yellow playing cards in the event that they did. The choice sparked outrage by some within the nations concerned.
One of many groups, Belgium, tweeted a group photograph Friday exhibiting captain Eden Hazard sporting the “One Love” armband. The nation’s international minister, Hadja Lahbib, wore it as she watched Belgium’s World Cup opener in opposition to Canada on Wednesday.
Former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt turned up at Denmark’s match in opposition to Tunisia sporting an outfit with rainbow-colored sleeves. In an Instagram publish a day later, she appeared conflicted concerning the selection of clothes.
“I’ve been reflecting on whether or not exhibiting up in rainbow colours is definitely serving to homosexual and queer of us in Qatar,” Thorning-Schmidt wrote within the publish. She puzzled whether or not it might “make issues worse by hardening the Qatar authorities in opposition to them? I don’t know the reply however doesn’t it present us that nothing is binary, solely good or solely unhealthy?”
Some followers have mentioned that they had been requested to take away and discard their rainbow hats at a World Cup stadium earlier this week regardless of assurances by FIFA earlier than the event that such gadgets could be allowed in stadiums.
Justin Martin, a U.S. citizen dwelling in Qatar, mentioned he was holding a small rainbow flag on the metro on his method to the U.S. opener in opposition to Wales when two individuals sporting shirts that recognized them as volunteers requested him to place the flag away. He didn’t wish to.
“One in every of them turned agitated and … referred to me as ‘disgusting,’” mentioned Martin, an affiliate professor of journalism on the Doha Institute for Graduate Research.
On the stadium, nonetheless, a lady in Qatari police uniform who was looking his bag discovered the rainbow flag, checked out it and put it again, he mentioned. “I truly wasn’t prohibited from bringing that into the stadium.”
Martin mentioned he had beforehand worn a satisfaction T-shirt in Qatar to the grocery retailer or to train with none points.
Some Wales followers mentioned they had been prevented from taking rainbow bucket hats to the sport in opposition to the U.S., prompting the Wales soccer federation to lift the problem with FIFA, which assured them that rainbow symbols could be allowed for Friday’s recreation in opposition to Iran.
Laura McAllister, a former Wales captain who acts as ambassador to the World Cup, mentioned she and different followers wore rainbow hats to Friday’s recreation with out issues. She mentioned she was amongst these requested to take away their hats earlier than the sooner recreation with the U.S.
The Qatari World Cup organizing committee didn’t present solutions to questions by The Related Press on the directions to stadium safety and volunteers about rainbow symbols.
In April, a Qatari official suggested that followers carrying rainbow flags might have them eliminated to guard them from attainable assaults.
The difficulty has been debated steadily in Qatar and the broader Center East, the place many consider it’s solely truthful for guests to respect the nation’s legal guidelines, customs and non secular beliefs, identical to individuals from the area are anticipated to honor different nations’ guidelines once they journey. Others counter that rights’ points are common and that sports activities should be inclusive.
Forward of the event, some LGBTQ rights activists sought to lift concerns about how LGBTQ individuals in Qatar could also be handled after the World Cup ends. A few of them have additionally argued that worldwide consideration was disproportionately targeted on the guests and never sufficient on LGBTQ individuals within the nation.
Related Press writers Karl Ritter and Graham Dunbar contributed.
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