An American man attending the World Cup in Qatar claimed he was detained for a short time at the stadium entrance because he was wearing a rainbow flag on his shirt.
Grant Wahl, a New York journalist, detailed the incident on his website. Wahl said he was stopped at the media entrance when "the security guards refused to let" him inside without changing his shirt, which he described as "a rainbow soccer ball T-shirt supporting the LGBTQ community."
The interaction lasted 25 minutes, according to Wahl, who claimed the guards "angrily demanded" he removed his T-shirt before entering.
Just now: Security guard refusing to let me into the stadium for USA-Wales. “You have to change your shirt. It’s not allowed.” pic.twitter.com/TvSGThMYq8
— Subscribe to GrantWahl.com (@GrantWahl) November 21, 2022
The journalist tweeted shortly after security told him to remove the shirt. "A moment after tweeting that, one guard forcibly ripped my phone from my hands," Wahl claimed.
According to Wahl, security claimed the rainbow shirt was "political" and "not allowed." Eventually, Wahl said he spotted a media acquaintance, New York Times reporter Andrew Das, who was also detained after engaging with Wahl and security.
Das was released, and a "security commander" for the event told Wahl he would be permitted to enter with the shirt in question. Wahl said that the commander apologized for the incident.
According to Wahl, one of the security guards explained that they were "just trying to protect" him from fans inside who may harm him for the shirt.
Wahl confirmed that a representative for FIFA later apologized to him.
Set in Qatar, this is the first World Cup ever to be held in the Middle East. However, the country's strict laws against same-sex relationships have sparked controversy in the tournament's opening days.
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Qatar has faced controversy as of late for its systemic discrimination against women and the LGBTQ+ community as well as the reported deaths of 37 migrant workers helping to construct the stadiums where the World Cup will be held, per The Guardian.