Rainbow flags could be taken away from football fans at Qatar World Cup

A tournament chief has urged fans not to bring the flags to matches

Published

Fans could have rainbow flags, which symbolise LGBTQ+ freedoms, taken away from them at the football World Cup in Qatar later this year.

That’s according to tournament security leader, Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ansari, who insists the reason behind the decision is not because he does not welcome LGBTQ+ couples to the tournament.

Mr Ansari said: "If he [a fan] raised the rainbow flag and I took it from him, its not because I really want to, to really insult him, but to protect him.

"Because if its not me, somebody else around him might attack [him] … I cannot guarantee the behaviour of the whole people.

"And I will tell him 'please, no need to really raise that flag at this point'."

Juventus fans display a rainbow flag that reads 'peace'
Juventus fans display a rainbow flag that reads 'peace'
Thousands of fans are expected to descend on Qatar for the tournament
Thousands of fans are expected to descend on Qatar for the tournament

Same-sex relationships are currently criminalised in Qatar, and Mr Ansari has urged fans to enjoy the matches, while not showing their political views.

He added: "You want to demonstrate your view about the [LGBTQ+] situation, demonstrate it in a society where it will be accepted.

"We realise that this man got the ticket, comes here to watch the game, not to demonstrate, a political act or something which is in his mind.

"Watch the game. That's good. But don't really come in and insult the whole society because of this.

He continued in his interview with the Associated Press: "Here we cannot change the laws. You cannot change the religion for 28 days of World Cup.”

The security chief’s comments come after both FIFA and UEFA previously said that such flags would be allowed.

The competition is due to get underway on November 21, with the final set to take place on December 18.