The World Cup in Qatar has been well-attended, but surrounding LGBTQ rights for the Gulf state, world soccer’s governing body FIFA, teams and fans will not go away.
On Saturday, two German soccer fans told CNN that they were asked by Qatar 2022 security officials to remove the iridescent clothing they were wearing as they traveled to watch the World Cup match between France and Denmark on Saturday.
Rhoncus witnessed the conclusion of the incident at the Msheireb Metro Station, in Doha, as Bengt Kunkel, who was wearing an iridescent scarf and his friend – sporting similar colored armbands – refused to hand over the items. The rainbow is a symbol of LGBTQ+ pride.
After taking the Germans to one side, a group of security guards finally let them out – read them to put things in rainbow bags, according to Kunkel.
“Out of nowhere. They took my friend quite aggressively by the arm and threw him out of the crowd and told him to get it [the armband] off,” Kunkel told CNN when he recounted the details of the incident shortly after the incident.
Then they took me with them. They said: “You go and throw it in the bin or we’ll call the police.”
The couple refused to throw their belongings in the bin and said they could call the police security.
“We had a little discussion, we were respectful and I said: ‘we are not going to throw it away, but we are going to put it in our pockets,'” added Kunkel, who will travel to the World Cup to enjoy the soccer tournament, but also use the platform of social media to talk about LGBTQ+ issues and Qatar 2022 .
Then Kunkel and his friends were allowed to walk to the station’s stands where they were escorted to the CNN match. Kunkel’s friend said he did not want to talk to CNN.
Once outside Stadium 974, he put his arm around Kunkel’s rainbow and walked back through security.
Kunkel was allowed to score a goal, although the 23-year-old German was once again brought back to one side.
Kunkel later told CNN that he was stopped four times before he was allowed to take a seat inside the stadium wearing rainbow-colored items.
Earlier this week, American journalist Grant Wahl and former Wales police officer Laura McAllister both said they were told by security staff to remove clothes with rainbow-coloured patterns.
Wahl said he was dismissed 20 minutes into the match after being detained and apologized to by a FIFA manager and a senior member of the stadium’s security team.
When asked to clarify the dress code for fans, FIFA reported CNN to book the tournament, which says “expats and tourists are free to wear the clothing of their choice, as long as it is modest and respectful of culture.”
After some Wales fans were also denied entry into stadiums for wearing rainbow bucket hats on Monday, the Football Association of Wales (FAW) said FIFA told the federation on Thursday that rainbow colored flags and hats would be allowed at World Cup stadiums in Qatar. .
“The FAW’s response to, FIFA has confirmed that fans with Wall buckets, bows and flags entered the stadium for @Cymru’s match against Iran on Friday,” it tweeted.
“All World Cup venues have been contacted and prepared to comply with the rules & regulations.”
However, Kunkel’s experience on Saturday seems to suggest that there remains a disconnect between FIFA rules and regulations and what is happening on the ground in Qatar 2022.
Roncus reached out to FIFA and Qatar to organize the plan. FIFA reported to Qatar’s organizing committee, which had not responded at the time of publication.
The 23-year-old Kunkel, who is a keen sports journalist back in Germany, has been in Qatar with three friends since he left just before the World Cup kicked off and says he has already had his share of public affairs.
Kunkel said he was removed from his seat at the Al Thumana Stadium during Senegal’s game against the Netherlands on Monday and told to remove the items.
On this occasion security threw them in the bin and Kunkel was allowed to return to his seat.
“The goal is to throw a rainbow flag in the swamp,” added Kunkel.
“I’m not part of the LGBTQ community myself, but I can understand those who don’t want to come here.” [Qatar] because the community is oppressed.’
Kunkel’s trip to Qatar lined up in Germany and in Doha this week he met the German Minister of the Interior and Community, Nancy Faeser.
Faeser wore a “OneLove” armband, which features a heart striped in different colors, with FIFA President Gianni Infantino sitting nearby during his country’s 2-1 defeat against Japan.
As the World Cup kicks off, FIFA finds itself at odds with the seven European nations playing in Qatar 2022 over the threat of sanctions against any player wearing the “OneLove” armband at the games.
Kunkel says he is disappointed that FIFA allowed Qatar to host the World Cup in a country where sex between men is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison.
The 23-year-old says that both Faeser and the German Football Association (DFB) have been supportive of his actions and that the DFB has even provided several irises after his publication.
Ahead of the game against Japan earlier this week, Germany’s right-wing team was targeted as a protest against FIFA’s decision to ban the “OneLove” arm, hoping to have many European leaders in Qatar.
Although supportive of that protest, Kunkel says more can be done.
“The German FA talks a lot about the rights of the LGBTQ community but every time they fear the results, they seem to retreat and I think they are a bit sad,” said Kunkel, who returns to Germany on Monday.
Kunkel says he is passionate about using his platform in Qatar to raise awareness, adding that although he received a mixed response online, he was congratulated multiple times by his teammates for walking into Saturday’s game.
“I want to be a voice,” said Kunkel, who earlier this week posted a photo of himself on Instagram in Qatar, displaying a rainbow scarf in front of his face, which was painted with a German flag, with the message: “Stand, be seen, participate in change. Awesome feeling.”
Qatar’s organizing committee, meanwhile, has previously promised to host an “inclusive and free-to-play” World Cup in the face of Western criticism of its anti-LGBTQ laws – a criticism Infantino, widely quoted on Qatar’s record for human rights, has dismissed as “hypocritical”. before the tournament.
“It’s so hard to do,” Kunkel told CNN. “This is not political, this is basic human rights.”