LGBT+ Pride flags could be confiscated at 2022 World Cup in Qatar

A rainbow Pride corner flag

Pride flags could be confiscated from LGBT+ football fans at the World Cup in Qatar to prevent attacks, a security official has said.

Football’s global governing body FIFA has faced severe backlash ever since it announced that the 2022 World Cup would be held in Qatar, where homosexuality is punished with up to seven years in prison, plus a fine. Muslims in the country, under Sharia law, can be punished with the death penalty.

Despite the persecution of LGBT+ people in Qatar, football officials in Qatar and in England have insisted that LGBT+ fans will be safe and “welcome”, and that Pride flags can be displayed.

But now, Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ansari, an official overseeing security at the World Cup, has said that flags could be confiscated for fans’ protections.

According to Metro, he said:‘If he [a fan] raised the rainbow flag and I took it from him, it’s not because I really want to, really, take it, to really insult him, but to protect him.

“Because if it’s not me, somebody else around him might attack [him]… I cannot guarantee the behaviour of the whole people. And I will tell him: ‘Please, no need to really raise that flag at this point.'”

“You want to demonstrate your view about the [LGBT+] situation, demonstrate it in a society where it will be accepted,” he continued.

“We realise that this man got the ticket, comes here to watch the game, not to demonstrate, a political [act] or something which is in his mind.

“Watch the game. That’s good. But don’t really come in and insult the whole society because of this.”

Despite describing the Pride flag as an “insult” to Qatari society, Al Ansari continued to insist that LGBT+ fans would be welcome at the World Cup.

“Reserve the room together, sleep together – this is something that’s not in our concern,” he said.

“We are here to manage the tournament. Let’s not go beyond, the individual personal things which might be happening between these people.

“Here we cannot change the laws. You cannot change the religion for 28 days of World Cup.”

In 2020, Qatar’s 2022 World Cup chief executive Nasser Al-Khater assured Fifa that pro-LGBT+ displays, including Pride flags, would not be removed.

“When it comes to the rainbow flags in the stadiums, FIFA have their own guidelines, they have their rules and regulations,” said Al-Khater. “Whatever they may be, we will respect them.”

He added: “We have a country that’s conservative, however we are a welcoming country.

“We are open and welcoming – hospitable. We understand the difference in people’s cultures. We understand the difference in people’s beliefs and so I think, again, everybody will be welcome and everybody will be treated with respect.

“Just like our culture is a culture of this world, we also expect people to respect our culture. I think there’s a balance and there’s a feeling that people will respect people from everywhere.”