World Cup fan ‘aggressively’ removed from stadium by Qatari officials for wearing rainbow armband

Brian Davis

American football fan, Brian Davis, claims he was “aggressively” removed from a World Cup stadium in Qatar for wearing a rainbow armband ahead of USA team’s game against Iran.

Davis says he arrived at the Al Thumama Stadium on Tuesday (30 November) and passed security, who he claimed said it was fine for him to wear the pro-LGBTQ+ armband.

But, while sitting down and waiting for kickoff, Davis claims he was told by another member of staff he couldn’t wear the armband.

Davis refused and informed the staff he was allowed to wear it. Police then arrived on the scene and were “very aggressive” in removing him from his seat.

He told Danish reporter Rasmus Tantholdt: “They [the police] came up and said I have to take it off, I said ‘no that’s not true’. Then these gentlemen came up, and fairly aggressively grabbed me and twisted my arms back…”

Davis took to Twitter following the incident to post a picture of him with his thumb up, captioned: “Today was a bit eventful. But I’m ready for the game”.

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Before the Iran v USA match, which the latter won, Tantholdt has been involved in an incident where security staff threatened to smash his camera.

The journalist repeatedly told them he was allowed to film as a member of the media.

Following the incident, Tantholdt was issued an apology by delegates in Qatar, but he remains concerned about being stopped during a live broadcast.

“I don’t think the message from the top in Qatar has reached all the security guards.

“Therefore, one can argue that there are some who have misunderstood the situation, but at the same time it tells a lot about what it is like in Qatar,” he said.

“There it is that you can be attacked and threatened when you report as a free media.

“This is not a free and democratic country. My experience after visiting 110 countries in the world is: The more you have to hide, the more difficult it is to report from there,” he added.

Sports minister Stuart Andrew wears OneLove rainbow armband and a rainbow tie to the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Wales and England at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha
Sports minister Stuart Andrew wears his OneLove rainbow armband and rainbow tie to support the LGBTQ+ community in Qatar. (AFP via Getty Images/Ina Fassbender)

LGBTQ+ activists have hit out at “homophobic dictators” in Qatar after comments were made about the OneLove World Cup armband being an insult to “the Islamic world”.

Since the start of the World Cup, fans attending matches have been turned away from entering Qatar stadiums for wearing rainbow colours.

Following FIFA holding “urgent talks” with Qatar, the country has stated that Pride colours “will not be prohibited”, but players have still not worn the OneLove armband.

England and Wales planned to wear the armband at the tournament but pulled out when threatened with a yellow card by FIFA.

In Qatar homosexuality remains illegal and being found guilty of same-sex relations can result in a lengthy prison sentence.

Under Sharia law in the country, it is possible for men to face the death penalty if they are found to have engaged in same-sex intimacy.