Harry Redknapp wades into World Cup LGBT row as Qataris step up crackdown on rainbow flags

22 November 2022, 10:21

LGBT supporters have had rainbow bucket hats confiscated by Qatari security
LGBT supporters have had rainbow bucket hats confiscated by Qatari security. Picture: Social Media/Alamy

By Asher McShane

Harry Redknapp has waded into the row over LGBTQ+ fans at the World Cup, as Qatari security stepped up a crackdown, seizing flags, t-shirts and rainbow-coloured bucket hats at the tournament.

Football legend Mr Redknapp declared on LBC this morning: "If you feel that strongly don't play or don't go".

His comments come after fans, including former Wales captain Laura McAllister, were ordered to take off their rainbow bucket hats. US football reporter Grant Wahl was stopped by security at the same match and ordered to take off a rainbow coloured T-shirt.

He refused and Qatari officials questioned him before eventually backing down.

FIFA has made it clear that rainbows on clothing and flags are not prohibited in stadiums. Organisers of the tournament have urged fans to ‘respect’ local customs and religious rules.

In Qatar, public displays of affection are not allowed, modest clothing must be worn, LGBT people are criminalised and face discrimination and violence. Drinking and swearing in public are forbidden.

Harry said: "If you feel that strongly don't play or don't go. I don't know whether wearing the armband will change anything in that country.

"It’s their country and that’s how they want to run it. I just want to get on and enjoy the football. But a yellow card for wearing an armband is ridiculous."

The bucket hats were confiscated from female fans initially at Wales's opening game, while the male supporters retained their bespoke accessories.

It comes amid widespread criticism of Fifa and Qatar’s approach to the support of LGBTQ+ communities at the tournament, with captains – including England’s Harry Kane and Welsh Captain Gareth Bale, threatened with yellow cards if they choose to wear OneLove armbands.

Read more: Female TV reporter robbed live on air while covering World Cup in Qatar

Read more: England's six-y football! Three Lions enjoy record breaking World Cup win thrashing Iran 6-2

According to fan account @TheRainbowWall, male fans were then targeted by Qatari security, confiscating the LGBTQ+ items being worn by fans.

“Our rainbow bucket hat. We are so proud of them, BUT news on the ground tonight is our welsh female supporters wearing them in #Qatar are having them taken off them, Not the men, just Women,” read the post.

The Twitter account later tweeted: “We have an update that in the end the Rainbow Hats had been taken from the men also but it didn’t start out that way.”

They added: “@FIFAcom ARE YOU SERIOUS !! #LGBTQRights”

Operated by @Cymru LGBTQ+ Supporters Group, the Twitter account warned Welsh fans in Qatar to ”please stay safe”.

The account added: “We can not trust @FIFAcom at all and nothing they have said has been true.”

It comes amid criticism of Qatar’s human rights record, as homosexuality is met with a prison sentence of up to 7 years in the Gulf State.

Armbands were a way of nations showing their support for the community, however, Fifa labelled the move 'political', announcing that the wearing of OneLove armbands would contravene apparel guidelines laid out ahead of the tournament.

It stands in contrast to Qatar's initial pledge, which allowed rainbow symbols as part of their agreement with Fifa.

The Welsh team's opening match of the tournament against the USA is scheduled for Monday evening.

Wales sit in Group B of the tournament, pitted against England, Iran and the USA.

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