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
CNN

The World Cup is well underway in Qatar, but issues surrounding LGBTQ+ rights are not just going away for the Gulf state, soccer’s global governing body FIFA, teams and fans.

On Saturday, two German soccer fans told CNN that they were asked by security officials at Qatar 2022 to remove the colorful items they were wearing as they went to watch the World Cup match between France and Denmark on on Saturday

CNN witnessed the aftermath of the incident at Msheireb Metro Station, in Doha, as Bengt Kunkel, who was wearing a rainbow colored armband, and his friend – who was sporting a similar armband – refused to hand over the items. Rainbow is a symbol of LGBTQ+ pride.

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

“Unexpectedly. They grabbed my friend by the arm and pulled him away from the crowd and told him to hold him. [the armband] off,” Kunkel told CNN, as he recounted the details of the incident shortly afterward.

“Then I took it with me. They said: ‘You’re going to take it off and throw it in the bin or we’re going to call the police.’

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

“We had a little discussion, we were respectful and we said, ‘We’re not going to throw it away but we’re going to put it in our pockets,'” said Kunkel, who went to the World Cup to enjoy it. soccer tournament, but also 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 to the station platform where CNN joined them. Kunkel’s friend said he did not want to talk to CNN.

As he left the 974 Stadium, Kunkel put on the colored wristband and armband again and walked through security.

CNN reported that Kunkel was allowed in, although the 23-year-old German was again taken aside.

Kunkel later told CNN that he was stopped four more times before he was allowed to take his seat inside the stadium and wear rainbow-colored items.

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 colorful patterns.

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

A detailed view a

When asked to clarify the dress code for fans, FIFA referred CNN to the tournament handbook, which states that “goers and tourists are free to wear clothing of their choice, as long as it is modest and respectful of culture. ”

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) said FIFA had told the federation on Thursday that rainbow flags would be displayed at World Cup stadiums in Qatar after some Wales fans were also turned away from stadiums on Monday for wearing rainbow-coloured bucket hats. be allowed. .

The tweet read: “In response to the FAW, FIFA has confirmed that fans wearing Rainbow Wall bricks and colored 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 seemed to show that there remains a disconnect between FIFA’s rules and regulations and what is happening on the ground at Qatar 2022.

CNN reached out to FIFA and Qatar’s organizing committee. FIFA referred CNN to Qatar’s organizing committee, which had not responded by press time.

Bengt Kunkel wears the colorful armband inside the 974 Stadium on Saturday, November 26.

The 23-year-old Kunkel, who is a sports journalism student in Germany, is in Qatar with three friends before the start of the World Cup and says he has already touched colorful objects.

Kunkel said he was escorted from his seat at the Al Thumana Stadium during Senegal’s game against the Netherlands on Monday and told to take things out.

On this, the security threw him into the hole and allowed Kunkel to return to his place.

“Putting a rainbow flag in the trash is quite a statement,” 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 the people of the society are oppressed.”

Kunkel’s trip to Qatar made headlines in Germany and this week he met with the German Minister of the Interior and Social Affairs, Nancy Faeser, in Doha.

German Football Association President Bernd Neuendorf (L) and German Federal Minister of the Interior and Social Affairs Nancy Faeser, wearing

Faeser wore the “OneLove” armband, which features an outline of a heart in different colors, with FIFA President Gianni Infantino sitting nearby during his country’s 2-1 loss to Japan.

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

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

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The 23-year-old says that both Faeser and the German Football Association (DFB) have supported his actions and that the DFB has also provided more colorful material after his arrest.

Ahead of their game against Japan earlier this week, the German team posed with their right hands over their mouths in protest against FIFA’s decision to ban the “OneLove” armband that many European captains were expected to wear in Qatar. .

Although he supports that protest, Kunkel says more can be done.

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

Kunkel says he’s eager to use his platform in Qatar to raise awareness, but added that although he’s received a mixed response online, he’s been repeatedly congratulated by teammates running Saturday’s game.

“I want to be a voice,” said Kunkel, who earlier this week posted a photo of himself on Instagram from Qatar showing a colorful sock in front of his face, which he painted with the German flag, with a message that read: “Attitude get involved, be seen, be a part of the change. a wonderful feeling.”

Qatar’s organizing committee, meanwhile, has previously vowed to host an inclusive and non-discriminatory World Cup in the face of Western criticism of its anti-LGBTQ laws – a criticism from Infantino, who has often focused on the rights situation. People in Qatar speak, it is described as “hypocrisy”. before the tournament.

“It’s very disturbing that they’re doing this,” Kunkel told CNN. “This is not a political issue, it is a basic human right.”



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