Entertainment And News

World Cup Fan Documents How He Was Treated When He Wore A Rainbow Armband In Qatar

Photo: Twitter
USA World Cup Fan Brian Davis

Since the beginning of the 2022 World Cup games on November 20th, Qatar has been the buzz of all sports headlines. But, for this seemingly modest and controversial country, sports fans weren’t the only ones interested in advocating for their community’s colors. 

With an unclear legal picture of LGBTQ+ rights in Qatar and recent anti-LGBTQ+ attacks and abuse on the rise, World Cup fans were unsettled about their safety as they traveled to attend matches in the country. 

Between 2019 and 2022, Human Rights Watch, an international organization advocating against human rights abuses, documented six cases of “severe and repeated beatings and five cases of sexual harassment” in Qatar police custody. 

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In addition, Qatar police authorities have an even larger history of unlawful arrests of LGBTQ+ people and “ill-treatment in detention” – most notably, they’ve enforced a conditionality on releases for transgender detainees: “government-sponsored” conversion therapy

As the beginning of the World Cup drew closer, Qatar officials and World Cup organizers took to assuring the public that their safety as fans would be of utmost importance. 

“Everyone is welcome,” Nasser Al-Khater, head of the Qatar 2022 World Cup assured back in October, “We are not putting restrictions on any nationality, or anyone with respect to their gender, race, orientation, religion…we look at it as the safety and security of the fan.” 

Seemingly under control, fans were quick to realize that the atmosphere of anti-LGBTQ+ hate in this country would not go unrealized. Advocates, both international and local, took advantage of the platform Qatar created to spread awareness of human rights issues. 

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World Cup attendees have been documenting their experiences while protesting for LGBTQ rights.

One ‘Superman-like’ fan was arrested by Qatari officials after he stormed the field during the Portugal and Uruguay with a rainbow Pride flag and shirt reading: ‘Save Ukraine’ and ‘Respect For Iranian Women’.  

While fans worry for his safety following his arrest, others focus on the increasing homophobia many World Cup fans are still facing, despite prior Qatari assurances of safety. 

One fan reported being ‘twisted by the arm’ and ‘aggressively’ thrown out of a World Cup match for wearing a Pride flag armband. 

U.S. citizen Brian Davis told Danish reporter Rasmus Tantholdt that Qatari police removed him from his seat at the Iran v. U.S. World Cup match because of his rainbow armband. 

“They [the police] came up and said I have to take it off, I said ‘no that’s not true’. Then these gentlemen came up, and fairly aggressively grabbed me and twisted my arms back…”

Even after the alarming removal from the game, Davis posted a picture back in the Khalifa International Stadium, with the caption “Today was a bit eventful. But I’m ready for the game.” 

Before this World Cup match, the same reporter said Qatari security threatened to ‘smash his camera’. 

Prior to the Iran v. U.S. match, Tantholdt had his camera pulled away by private Qatari security while live on TV2, a Danish news station. 

As they pulled his camera down and he tried to prove his right to film with World Cup media passes, he finally said, “You invited the whole world to come here, why can’t we film? ” 

Tantholdt’s Danish station TV2 later posted on their website about the ordeal saying, “The team was bluntly told that if they didn’t stop filming, their cameras would be destroyed. This is despite the fact that TV2’s team has acquired the correct accreditations and reported from a public place.”

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Insufficient communication for Qatari police at the World Cup seems to provoke more anti-LGBTQ situations. 

Not only are the media being targeted by unkept Qatari promises of safety and communication, but fans are also taking the brunt of the police’s shortcomings. 

On November 24th, Qatari police kicked Morrocan fans out and attempted to take their Amazigh flag, after they had mistaken it to be an LGBTQ+ rainbow Pride flag. 

Bolivian sports journalist Roberto Acosta was also approached by Qatari police, threatening to kick him out, after they mistook his news station’s logo as pro-LGBTQ+ apparel, 

Seemingly for fans’ protection, Qatari officials seem to not only be removing Pride flags but also attacking all colorful items – what a sad aura of celebration. 

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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a news and entertainment writer at YourTango. They cover topics ranging from pop culture analysis to human interest stories. They are currently based in East Lansing, MI. Catch up with them on their Instagram or TikTok.

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