Ahead of England’s World Cup clash with the United States on Friday, world football’s governing body FIFA said the Crusader costumes worn by England fans were “offensive”.
Some England fans attend sporting events dressed as England’s patron saint, Saint George, outfitted with helmets, crosses and plastic swords.
FIFA told CNN: “Crusader costumes in an Arab or Middle Eastern context can be offensive to Muslims. That’s why anti-discrimination colleagues asked the fans to wear their clothes inside out or to change their clothes.”
Christian armies fought Muslims for more than 200 years to regain control of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas that were under Islamic rule.
FIFA says that “it strives to create an environment free of discrimination, promoting diversity throughout the organization and in all its activities and events.”
During the tournament in Qatar, the spotlight was on football fans’ attire – especially any rainbow-colored clothing or paraphernalia.
Hear from a US journalist arrested in Qatar for wearing a rainbow shirt
The rainbow flag is a symbol of LGBTQ rights and homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.
At Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, American football journalist Grant Wahl and former Wales captain Laura McAllister said Monday ahead of the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) game against Wales that they were ordered to remove rainbow-colored clothing by security staff.
Wahl said he was arrested for the “rainbow football t-shirt” he was wearing and was briefly denied entry to the game Twitter that security guards had told him, “You need to change your shirt. It is not allowed.”
“A security guard told me my shirt was ‘political’ and not allowed,” Wahl wrote on Substack.
Wahl told CNN on Tuesday that he had previously been assured he would be allowed to wear rainbow-embellished clothing and that he will “probably” wear the shirt again as he is “not afraid of any of that here.”
McAllister – who captained the Wales women’s national football team in the 1990s – said she was stopped by security officers and her rainbow-colored hat confiscated before she was allowed into Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.
“Despite kind words from @FIFAWorldCup ahead of the event, @Cymru (Wales) rainbow bucket hats have been confiscated at the stadium, including mine,” said McAllister tweeted of the incident.
“I spoke to stewards about this – we have video evidence. This #WorldCup2022 just keeps getting better but we will continue to stand up for our values,” added McAllister.
The Football Association of Wales (FAW) said FIFA informed the federation on Thursday that rainbow-colored flags and hats would be allowed in World Cup stadiums in Qatar.
On Twitter, she added: “The FAW urges FIFA to stand by its message that everyone will be welcome during the World Cup in Qatar and to continue to highlight any further human rights issues.” We remain convinced that football is for EVERYONE.”
When FIFA was asked to clarify the dress code, FIFA referred CNN to the tournament manual, which states: “Expats and tourists are free to wear the attire of their choice, as long as it is modest and respectful of the culture.”
This manual also states that “body armor”, “weapons of any kind” and “items with political, offensive or discriminatory messages” are prohibited.
Apart from this document, FIFA has a human rights observer in each stadium who is responsible for determining what is acceptable or not.