World Cup: Soccer fans stopped by security officials for wearing rainbow-colored items as LGBTQ+ rights issue won’t go away at Qatar 2022

Doha, Qatar

The World Cup has gone well in Qatar, but issues surrounding LGBTQ+ rights for the Gulf state, world football’s governing body FIFA, clubs and fans will not go away.

On Saturday, two German soccer fans told CNN that they were asked by security officials at Qatar 2022 to remove rainbow-colored items they were wearing as they headed to watch the World Cup match between France and Denmark in Saturday.

CNN witnessed the end of the event at Msheireb Regional Station, in Doha, as Bengt Kunkel, who was wearing a rainbow-colored shirt and his friend – who had the same colored armband – refused to hand over the items. The rainbow is a symbol of LGBTQ pride.

After taking the Germans to a group, a group of security guards finally let them go — on the condition that they put rainbow-colored items in their pockets, according to Kunkel.

“From nowhere. They took my friend quite aggressively by the arm and pushed him away from the crowd and told him to take it [the armband] killing,” Kunkel told CNN, as he recounted the details of the incident shortly after it happened.

“Then they took me with him. They said: ‘Take it away and throw it in the bin or call the police.’ ”

The couple refused to throw their things in the box and said they told security they could call the police.

“We had a little discussion, we were respected and he said: ‘We will not drop it but we will put it in our pockets’,” added Kunkel, who traveled to the World Cup to enjoy the tournament. . soccer tournament, but also to use his social media platform to talk about LGBTQ+ issues and Qatar 2022.

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Kunkel and his friend were then allowed to walk down to the station platform where CNN followed them to the competition. Kunkel’s friend said he did not want to talk to CNN.

Once outside Stadium 974, Kunkel put the rainbow-colored armor and wristband back on and walked through security.

CNN confirmed that Kunkel was allowed through, although the 23-year-old German was also taken to a club.

Kunkel later told CNN that he was stopped four times before being allowed to take his seat in the stadium wearing rainbow-colored clothing.

Earlier this week, American journalist Grant Wahl and former Wales captain Laura McAllister both said they were told by security staff to remove clothing with rainbow-coloured instructions.

Wahl said he was released 25 minutes later after being interpreted and received an apology from a FIFA representative and a senior member of the security team at the stadium.

A detailed view of the

When asked to explain the dress code for fans, FIFA referred CNN to the tournament manual, which says “immigrants and tourists are free to wear the clothes they want, as long as it is modest and respectful of culture .”

After some Wales fans were again refused entry to stadiums for wearing rainbow bucket hats on Monday, the Football Association of Wales (FAW) said FIFA had told the organization on Wednesday that rainbow flags and hats would allowed in World Stadiums in Qatar. .

“In response to the FAW, FIFA has confirmed that fans with Rainbow Wall bucket hats and rainbow flags will be allowed into the stadium for the @Cymru match against Iran on Friday,” it tweeted.

“All World Cup venues have been contacted and ordered to follow the agreed rules and regulations.”

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However, Kunkel’s experience on Saturday would seem to suggest that there is a connection between FIFA’s rules and regulations and what is happening on the ground at Qatar 2022.

CNN reached out to FIFA and the Qatar organizing committee. FIFA referred CNN to Qatar’s organizing committee, which did not respond at press time.

Bengt Kunkel wears a rainbow armband inside Stadium 974 on Saturday, November 26.

Kunkel, 23, who is a student sports journalist back in Germany, has been in Qatar with three friends since shortly before the World Cup started and says he has received things he has rainbow color already.

Kunkel said he was kicked out of his seat at Al Thumana Stadium during Senegal’s match against the Netherlands on Monday and told to take the items away.

At that point security threw them in the box and Kunkel was allowed back to his seat.

“It’s very informative to throw a rainbow flag in the trash,” Kunkel added.

“I’m not part of the LGBTQ community myself, but I can understand those who don’t want to come here [Qatar] because we are oppressing the local people.”

Kunkel’s trip to Qatar has made headlines in Germany and he met with German Interior and Regional Minister Nancy Faeser in Doha this week.

German Football Association president Bernd Neuendorf (L) and German Federal Minister of the Interior and Community Nancy Faeser, wearing a suit.

Faeser wore the “OneLove” armband, which depicts the pattern of an open heart in different colors, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino sitting nearby during his country’s 2-1 defeat against Japan.

Since the World Cup began, FIFA has found itself at loggerheads with the seven European nations playing in Qatar 2022 over the threat of sanctions for any player wearing the “OneLove” armband during the games.

Kunkel said he was unhappy that FIFA allowed Qatar to host the World Cup in a country where sex between men is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison.

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The 23-year-old said that both Faeser and the German Football Association (DFB) have supported his efforts and that the DFB even gave him more rainbow kits after he got it.

Ahead of their match against Japan earlier this week, the German team displayed their right hand in front of their mouth designed as a protest against FIFA’s decision to ban the “OneLove” armband that many European leaders are expected to wear in Qatar.

Although supportive of that announcement, Kunkel said more could be done.

“The German FA talks a lot about the rights of the LGBTQ community but whenever they fear the consequences they seem to back off and I think that’s a bit sad,” said Kunkel, who returned to Germany on Monday.

Kunkel said he’s excited about using his platform in Qatar to raise awareness, adding that although he’s received mixed feedback online, he’s been greeted several times by fellow fans walking into Saturday’s game.

“I want to be a voice,” said Kunkel, who posted a picture of himself on Instagram from Qatar showing a rainbow in front of his face, which was painted with a German flag with a message that said that: “Take a stand, see, participate in the change. Amazing feeling. ”

Qatar’s organizing committee, meanwhile, has already promised to host an “inclusive and discrimination-free” World Cup in the face of Western criticism of its anti-LGBTQ laws – a criticism of Infantino, speaking generally about Qatar’s human rights record, called a “hypocrite” before the competition.

“It’s really annoying that they did this,” Kunkel told CNN. “This is not a political issue, it’s basic human rights.”


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