Qatar World Cup U-turns on rainbow ban after ‘urgent talks’ with FIFA

Qatar World Cup in rainbow flag U-turn: Pride colours will 'not be prohibited'

Qatar has stated that Pride colours will “not be prohibited” after reports that football fans wearing rainbow clothing were being turned away from World Cup stadiums.

According to The Independent, FIFA has now told LGBTQ+ fans and allies they will no longer be stopped by security staff for wearing rainbow colours, and that FIFA “has been given assurances” by the World Cup’s Safety and Security Operations Committee that Pride colours will no longer be confiscated.

The U-turn comes after FIFA reportedly held “urgent talks” with Qatar this week after a number of fans, including former Wales captain Laura McAllister, were reportedly asked to remove rainbow items before entering stadiums.

After ITV News posted footage of McAllister being asked to remove her rainbow hat, she said: “I pointed out that FIFA had made lots of comments about supporting LGBT rights in this tournament, and said to them that coming from a nation where we’re very passionate about equality for all people, I wasn’t going to take my hat off.

“They were insistent that unless I took the hat off we weren’t actually allowed to come into the stadium.”

American journalist Grant Wahl also claimed in a Twitter post that he was asked to change his rainbow T-shirt before entering the USA-Wales match on Monday (21 November), saying he was “detained for 25 minutes” by Qatari officials for refusing to take it off.

He later added he had been in touch with “both FIFA and US Soccer representatives” who “told me publicly that rainbows on shirts and flags would not be a problem at the Qatar World Cup”.

The incidents come after several teams, including England and Wales, backed out of their promise to wear pro-LGBTQ+ OneLove armbands at the World Cup, after FIFA threatened that captains could face an instant yellow card.

A joint statement from the Football Associations of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, confirmed on Monday (21 November) the teams will not wear the armband in Qatar.

“FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” the statement read.

“As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.”

The controversy surrounding the OneLove armband potentially being penalised culminated in the German team staging a protest, wearing rainbow kit with their hands over their mouths for a powerful team photo.

The team said in a statement on Twitter: “We wanted to use our captain’s armband to take a stand for values that we hold in the Germany national team: diversity and mutual respect.

“Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice.”

In Qatar homosexuality is illegal, and being found guilty of same-sex relations can result in a lengthy prison sentence, while under Sharia law it is possible for men to face the death penalty if they are found to have engaged in same-sex intimacy.

PinkNews has contacted FIFA for comment.