Chris Eldergill and Zayn Nabbi, CNN
Ahead of England’s World Cup clash with the United States on Friday, world soccer’s governing body FIFA said that Crusader costumes worn by England fans are “offensive.”
Some England fans attend sports events dressed as the English patron Saint George, equipped with helmets, crosses and plastic swords.
FIFA told CNN: “Crusader costumes in the Arab or Middle East context can be offensive to Muslims. That is why anti-discrimination colleagues asked fans to wear things inside out or change dress.”
Christian armies fought Muslims for more than 200 years to get back control of Jerusalem and its surrounding areas that were under Islamic rule.
FIFA says that “it strives to create a discrimination-free environment, to promote diversity across the organization and in all of its activities and events.”
During the tournament in Qatar, soccer fan attire has been in the spotlight — particularly any clothing or paraphernalia that has rainbow colors.
The rainbow flag is a symbol for LGBTQ rights, and in Qatar homosexuality is illegal.
At the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Monday, ahead of the United States Men’s National Team’s (USMNT) match with Wales, American soccer journalist Grant Wahl and former Wales captain Laura McAllister both said they were told to remove rainbow-colored items of clothing by security staff.
Wahl said he was detained and briefly refused entry to the match because of the “rainbow soccer ball t-shirt” he was wearing, posting on Twitter that security staff had told him: “You have to change your shirt. It’s not allowed.”
“One security guard told me that my shirt was ‘political’ and not allowed,” Wahl wrote on Substack.
Wahl told CNN on Tuesday that he had been given assurances beforehand he would be allowed to wear rainbow-decorated clothing, and that he “probably will” wear the shirt again as he has “no fear here about any of this.”
McAllister — who captained the Welsh women’s national soccer team in the 1990s — said she was stopped by security officials and had her rainbow-colored hat confiscated before she was allowed to enter the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.
“So, despite fine words from @FIFAWorldCup before event, @Cymru (Wales) rainbow Bucket hats confiscated at stadium, mine included,” McAllister tweeted of the incident.
“I had a conversation about this with stewards — we have video evidence. This #WorldCup2022 just gets better but we will continue to stand up for our values,” added McAllister.
The Welsh Football Association (FAW) said FIFA told the federation on Thursday that rainbow-colored flags and hats would be permitted at World Cup stadiums in Qatar.
Posting on Twitter, it added: “The FAW urges FIFA to adhere to their message that everybody will be welcome in Qatar during the World Cup and continue to highlight any further human rights issues. We remain with the belief that football is for EVERYONE.”
When asked to clarify the dress code, FIFA referred CNN to the tournament handbook, which states “expats and tourists are free to wear the clothing of their choice, as long as it is modest and respectful to the culture.”
In this handbook it also states that “body protection gear,” “weapons of any type” and “items with political, offensive or discriminatory messages” are banned.
Aside from this document, FIFA have a human rights monitor inside of each stadium and they will be responsible for determining what is acceptable or not.
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CNN’s Kevin Dotson and Ben Morse contributed to this report.
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