World Cup: Soccer fans stopped by security officials for wearing rainbow-colored items

Doha, Qatar

The World Cup in Qatar is going well, but the issue of LGBTQ+ rights cannot go away for the Gulf states, FIFA, teams and fans.

On Saturday, two German soccer fans told CNN that they were asked by Qatar 2022 security officials to remove the rainbow-colored clothing they were wearing while watching the World Cup. against France and Denmark on Saturday.

CNN witnessed the conclusion of the incident at the Msheireb metro station in Doha, as Bengt Kunkel, who was wearing a rainbow colored smoking belt, and his friend – wearing a belt – refused to hand over the goods. -same color handle. The rainbow is a symbol of LGBTQ+ pride.

After they took the Germans to their side, a group of guards finally let them go – on the condition that they put the rainbow-colored items in their pockets, Kunkel said.

“There is nowhere. They violently grabbed my friend by the arm and pushed him away from the crowd and told him to take it [the armband] leave,” Kunkel told CNN, as he recounted the details of the incident shortly after it happened.

“Then he took me with him. They said, ‘Take it off and throw it in the trash, or we’ll call the police.’ ”

The couple refused to put their belongings in the bin and told the security officer that they could call the police.

“We talked a little bit, showed respect and said, ‘We’re not going to throw it away, we’re going to put it in our pocket,'” said Kunkel, who traveled to the World Cup to enjoy the tournament. football, but will also use social media platforms to talk about LGBTQ+ issues and Qatar 2022.

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Kunkel and his friends were allowed down to the station platform where CNN followed them at the game. Friends of Kunkel said he did not want to talk to CNN.

Once outside the 974 arena, Kunkel put on the wristbands and rainbow-colored wristbands and went to safety.

CNN’s acquisition of Kunkel was witnessed, although the 23-year-old German was brought to the other side.

Kunkel later told CNN that he was stopped four times before he was allowed to sit inside the stadium wearing the rainbow colored items.

German fan Bengt Kunkel wearing rainbow colored arms and wristbands outside the 974 Stadium on Saturday, November 26.

Earlier this week, American journalist Grant Wahl and former Wales captain Laura McAllister both said they were asked by security staff to remove their rainbow colored clothing.

Wahl said he was released 25 minutes after being detained and received an apology from FIFA representatives and senior members of the stadium’s security team.

A detailed overview of

When asked to clarify the dress code for fans, FIFA pointed CNN to the tournament’s handbook, which states that “expatriates and tourists may wear the clothing of their choice, provided so it is modest and respects the culture.”

After some Wales fans were refused entry to the stadium for wearing rainbow bucket hats on Monday, the Football Association of Wales (FAW) said it had told The FIFA federation said on Thursday that rainbow flags and caps can be worn at the stadiums of the World Cup in Qatar. .

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

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

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However, Kunkel’s experience on Saturday seems to indicate that there is still a conflict between FIFA’s rules and regulations and what is happening on the ground at Qatar 2022.

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

Bengt Kunkel wears the rainbow wristband at Stadium 974 on Saturday, November 26.

The 23-year-old Kunkel, who is a sports journalism student in Germany, was in Qatar with three friends before the start of the World Cup and said he had already collected the rainbow-coloured items.

Kunkel said he was removed from his seat at Al Thumana Stadium during Senegal’s match against the Netherlands on Monday and told to remove the items.

At that point, the officers threw them in the trash and Kunkel was allowed to return to his seat.

“Tossing a rainbow flag in the trash is quite a revelation,” Kunkel said.

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

Kunkel’s trip to Qatar was popular in Germany and he met with German Minister of the Interior and Communities Nancy Faeser in Doha this week.

The president of the German Football Association Bernd Neuendorf (right) and German Minister of the Interior and Community Nancy Faeser, who wears a long coat.

Faeser wore the “OneLove” armband, which features a heart shaped like a heart in different colors, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino sitting next to him during his country’s 2-1 loss to Japan.

Since the start of the World Cup, FIFA has clashed with the seven European nations playing in Qatar 2022 over threats of punishment for any players wearing “OneLove” armbands during matches.

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 been supportive of his move and that the DFB even gave him more rainbow goods after his signing.

Ahead of their match against Japan earlier this week, the German team put their right hand in front of their mouth in protest of FIFA’s decision to ban the “OneLove” armband which expected by many European captains to wear in Qatar.

While Kunkel supports the initiative, he says more can be done.

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

Kunkel said he is interested in using his platform in Qatar to raise awareness, adding that while he has received mixed responses online, fellow fans have repeatedly congratulated him for entering the game. Saturday.

“I want to be a voice,” said Kunkel, who earlier this week posted a photo on Instagram from Qatar showing a rainbow-colored bandana in front of her face, which she painted with German flag with the message: “Stand up, be seen, contribute to change.” It’s a wonderful feeling. ”

Meanwhile, Qatar’s organizing committee has already promised to host the World Cup “without prejudice and discrimination” in the face of Western criticism of its anti-LGBTQ laws – a criticism of Infantino , speaking broadly of Qatar’s human rights record, was deemed “hypocritical” ahead of the competition.

“It’s very frustrating for them to do that,” Kunkel told CNN. “This is not a matter of politics, it is a basic human right.”


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