The FIFA World Cup is being hosted in Qatar in 2022, and many soccer fans worldwide have gathered to cheer on their favorite teams. However, security officials at the event are reportedly stopping some fans from wearing items that display rainbow colors – a symbol of LGBTQ+ pride.
One of the best things about being a fan during the FIFA World Cup is that there are many opportunities to show your support for your team. Whether painting your face in your country’s colors or wearing a jersey, there are many ways to get into the spirit and make it feel like everyone around you is rooting for the same thing.
Such was the case this past Saturday; security officials stopped two German soccer fans for wearing rainbow-colored items in the match between France and Denmark.
But what happens when fans want to express their support more visibly? Recently, security officials at Qatar 2022 have stopped people from entering if they are seen wearing rainbow-colored items. This has caused a backlash among fans, who see this as discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals.
In Doha, at the Msheireb Metro Station, CNN saw the matter come to a head when Bengt Kunkel, sporting a rainbow-colored sweatband, and his friend, who was wearing a matching armband, refused to turn over the items.
According to Kunkel, security officers released the Germans after separating them and demanding they place the rainbow-colored things in their pockets.
“Out of nowhere. They took my friend quite aggressively on the arm and pushed him away from the crowd and told him to take it [the armband] off,” Kunkel said to CNN immediately after the incident. “Then they took me with him. They said: ‘You’re going to take it off and throw it in the bin or we’ll call the police.”
The two allegedly informed security they could contact the police and refused to dispose of their belongings in the trash.
In addition to attending the World Cup to enjoy the soccer competition, Kunkel traveled there to use his social media presence to promote LGBTQ+ issues and Qatar 2022. “We had a little discussion, we were being respectful and said: ‘We’re not going to throw it away but we’re going to put it in our pockets’,”
It is clear that more work needs to be done to ensure that all individuals are treated equally regardless of their sexuality or gender identity, and events like the World Cup provide a perfect opportunity for countries that have yet to do so to show where they stand on these important issues.
Hopefully, incidents like those that took place over the weekend will encourage other countries hosting major sporting events in the future to follow Qatar’s lead and ensure that everyone can enjoy them without fear of discrimination.