US journalist Grant Wahl says he was detained in Qatar for rainbow shirt | World Cup 2022

US soccer journalist Grant Wahl says he was detained by security staff after he wore a rainbow shirt to USA’s World Cup opener against Wales.

Wahl, who works for CBS Sports and writes a popular Substack column, wore the shirt as a show of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community to the game at Qatar’s Ahmad bin Ali Stadium. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.

However, he said a security guard told him the shirt was not allowed. Wahl said his phone was “forcibly ripped” from his hands by a guard as he tweeted about the incident. He said he was then detained for 25 minutes and told to remove his shirt, which a member of security staff said was “political”. He was also asked if he was from the UK.

I’m OK, but that was an unnecessary ordeal. Am in the media center, still wearing my shirt. Was detained for nearly half an hour. Go gays 🌈

— Subscribe to (@GrantWahl) November 21, 2022

Wahl says he told a New York Times journalist who was passing by what had happened and he was detained too before being let go shortly afterwards.

“Then a security commander approached me,” Wahl wrote in his Substack column. “He said they were letting me through and apologized. We shook hands. One of the security guards told me they were just trying to protect me from fans inside who could harm me for wearing the shirt … A Fifa rep later apologized to me as well.

“But the entire episode left me wondering: What’s it like for ordinary Qataris who might wear a rainbow shirt when the world isn’t watching here? What’s that like?”

Wahl said he was subsequently allowed to wear the shirt in the stadium.

A Wales LGBTQ+ supporters group said some of its members were forbidden from wearing rainbow hats at the same game.

Fifa has said everyone is welcome at this year’s World Cup but LGBTQ+ rights activists and campaigners had earlier on Monday criticized soccer’s world governing body after it threatened to impose sanctions on players who wear OneLove armbands at the tournament.

England, Wales and five other European nations have confirmed their players will not wear the armband, saying Fifa had made it clear their captains could be booked or forced to leave the pitch if they did so.

Stonewall, the LGBTQ+ charity, said on Twitter: “By threatening sporting sanctions & stopping players from wearing #OneLove armbands, Fifa are brushing criticism of human rights abuses under the carpet.

“LGBTQ+ people are criminalised in Qatar just for being themselves. No country which abuses the human rights of its people in this way should have been awarded with the honour of hosting a major sporting tournament in the first place.

“We appreciate all the @England and @Cymru players’ efforts to draw attention to the appalling human rights abuses of LGBTQ+ people in Qatar, and we urge them to continue to speak out in Qatar as best and safely as they can.”

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