Rainbow flag-wielding spectator storms pitch in World Cup match to protest Qatar homophobic regime

28 November 2022, 21:20

The man protesting
The man protesting. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

A protester holding a rainbow flag has sprinted onto the pitch in a World Cup game in Qatar in an apparent protest against the country's homophobic regime.

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The protester entered the field of play during the group stage game between Portugal and Uruguay on Monday night.

He was also wearing a blue superman t-shirt that said 'Save Ukraine' and 'Respect for Iranian woman' [sic] in response to protests against the repressive Tehran regime.

The protester was chased across the pitch by security guards, and was eventually grabbed and taken away. It is unclear what has happened to him.

Tony Blair addresses criticism around Qatar hosting the World Cup

The referee picked up the flag after he dropped it, while some fans cheered as the man was led off, seemingly in support of his protest.

Being gay is illegal in Qatar, and carries the risk of a jail sentence or even being executed, although there are cases of capital punishment recorded.

The country's homophobic regime was one of several issues that made holding the World Cup in Qatar controversial.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrates the game's first goal
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrates the game's first goal. Picture: Getty

Players from England and several other European countries had pledged to wear 'One Love' armbands in support of LGBT rights, but this gesture was quelled by tournament organisers FIFA, who threatened unlimited sanctions on any player seen wearing the armband.

Fans from several countries were stopped from entering stadiums while wearing rainbow-branded clothes earlier in the tournament, but FIFA have now said this will be allowed.

Read more: 'Don’t disrespect Qatar': Sir Tony Blair says it's time to 'move on' from World Cup protests about LGBTQ+ rights

Read more: Huge fire breaks out near Fifa World Cup fan zone village

The game on Monday night ended 2-0 to Portugal.