England fan strip searched for wearing Pride t-shirt at Qatar World Cup match

The World Cup trophy and a football with rainbow colours marked over the image in the bottom right-hand corner

England supporter, Anthony Johnson, has told how he was subjected to a strip search and detained by Qatari authorities for wearing a Pride-themed t-shirt to a World Cup match.

On Tuesday (29 November) the London-based fan attempted to enter the Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar to watch the Netherlands play against Qatar. 

But, due to wearing an “England Pride Splatter” t-shirt from the Football Association’s merchandise range, he says he was forced to remove all his clothes, including his underwear.

The top featured a rainbow-coloured England badge and Johnson wore it with a Pride-themed baseball cap.  

“We got to the main security at the stadium,” Johnson told the i newspaper.

“I was asked to take my watch and belt off which I haven’t been at the other eight games I have been to. 

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“When I went through again, a big burly security guard screamed in my face ‘You don’t respect our culture’.

“They then wanded me down. The wand didn’t activate but they said I had some metal on me and ushered me into a private area where they asked me to first take off my shorts, then my shoes, then take my pants down then my underwear then strip fully naked.”

Johnson added: “Throughout, the guy was wanding my body and my clothes. He was almost apologetic by the end because it was obvious to us both he wouldn’t find anything. That all lasted about 10 minutes.”

Mario Ferri Falco
Mario Ferri Falco stages a protest, with a Pride flag, at the Qatar World Cup. (Credit: Getty Images)

After the ordeal, Johnson returned to the scanners but said his cap was not there. 

Security initially claimed he hadn’t been wearing a cap, but it was eventually found behind the metal-detecting scanner. He was then subjected to further security checks. 

“I thought that was it, but just as I was about to swipe my tickets to go through the turnstiles two burly security people stepped in front of me and asked me to come and stand over in the corner of the concourse. 

“They went to fetch an official from the stadium who spoke better English. There were up to seven people standing around me – four police, one guy in a Fifa uniform and two in traditional Qatari dress. 

“He asked me to remove my hat. I said that I was entitled to wear it and that Fifa had confirmed only three days ago that rainbow flags and dress were acceptable in stadiums. He said ‘We don’t care what Fifa say, we decide what comes in.’”

Johnson said he was told he needed to take the hat off or face a “more senior colleague”.  

Unfazed by the intimidation attempt he said he’d be happy to wait and requested for someone from FIFA. 

After 10 minutes, and the start of the game edging closer, Johnson said he’d be willing to take off his hat if officials can put in writing the reasons why he can’t wear it. 

“He said, ‘fine, the senior person will do that’. After another few minutes, a different policeman came over and told me I was allowed to go into the stadium.”

A split-screen image taken from Twitter showing World Cup officials and USA fan Brian Davis
USA fan Brian Davis posted on Twitter following his incident where he was “aggressively” removed. (Twitter/Rasmus Tantholdt)

A day prior to Johnson’s clash with Qatari authorities, American football fan, Brian Davis, claimed he was “aggressively” removed from a stadium for wearing a rainbow armband. 

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