Monday, June 5Welcome

Football World Cup fans feel double standards over political bans on stadiums

  • Fan representative says inconsistency is a ‘real problem’
  • Security officials crack down on support for Iranian protests
  • Slogans showing support for Palestinians allowed

DOHA (Reuters) – When will political banners be allowed at the World Cup in Qatar? The answer seems to rely largely on political messages, with fans criticizing what they see as inconsistent enforcement of FIFA rules by the host nation.

The first World Cup in the Middle East has not been isolated from troubles in a volatile region, against the backdrop of anti-government protests in Iran and a surge in violence in Israel and Palestine.

But broadcasts of pro-Palestinian sympathy are allowed, and people were handing out ‘Free Palestine’ T-shirts ahead of Wednesday’s Argentina-Poland match, demanding an end to clerical rule there. I’ve been

This week, the contrast was evident outside Al Thumama Stadium. Security forces escorted hundreds of fans dressed in flags, hats and scarves to show their support for Palestine ahead of the match between Morocco and Canada on Thursday.

Two nights ago, security at the same stadium confiscated items showing support for Iranian protesters, and fans took off their t-shirts and some flags before Iran’s tense match against the United States. I was forced to

As the crowd dispersed after Iran’s 1-0 defeat, a Reuters journalist said security guards chased a man in an activist shirt inside the stadium grounds as Iranian anti-government protesters shouted ” I saw them knocking one to the ground, shouting “Freedom for women’s lives.”

Ahead of the match, FIFA’s human rights department sent an email to fans dissatisfied with their treatment in previous Iranian matches, revealing the name or likeness of “Women.Life.Freedom” or Mahsa Amini – Woman unrest who died in Iranian police custody – allowed in stadium.

Reuters saw the text of the email.

Qatar’s World Cup organizers said “security officials stepped in to defuse tensions and restore calm.” Qatar’s government news outlet did not respond to a request for comment.

“real problem”

Fans see double standards, but analysts say the approach reflects Qatar’s political priorities.

Its policies include building good relations with Iran while hosting the region’s largest U.S. military base, hosting the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which previously had trading ties with Israel, and hosting the U.S. military for the World Cup. includes allowing Israelis to fly directly to Doha.

Football Supporters of Europe executive director Ronan Evan said the inconsistent rule enforcement was a “real problem” for fans. “Ultimately what we see is FIFA losing control of its own tournament.”

He said there was a “surprising” inconsistency in Iran’s slogans, noting that at some games fans wore T-shirts declaring support for the protests, but at Iran’s matches. said he got into trouble.

He felt similarly conflicted when it came to showing support for LGBT+ rights, which Qatar, which has banned homosexuality, has faced fierce criticism.

Rainbow flags are allowed in theory, but “in practice we know this is very different,” he said. rice field.

The FIFA Qatar World Cup Stadium Code of Conduct prohibits banners, flags, flyers, apparel and other paraphernalia of a “political, offensive and/or discriminatory nature”.

A FIFA spokesperson said it was “aware of several incidents where authorized items were not allowed to be displayed in stadiums” and is working closely with Qatar to ensure full implementation of the regulations. continued to cooperate.

Iranian-American Saeed Kamarinia wore a T-shirt proclaiming “Women Life Freedom” for up to six games, but hid it on the way through security during two of Iran’s games and He said he decided not to wear it for fear of being cracked down.

By contrast, symbols of support for the Palestinian people are ubiquitous. Palestinian fan Saeed Khalil said: “We felt welcomed by the people of Qatar and by everyone here. People greeted us as ‘Palestine he is Palestine’.” Told.

Mariam Al-Hajri, a Qatari member of the Qatar Youth Against Normalization, a vocal group opposed to the normalization of Israeli-Arab ties, said that sympathy for the pro-Palestinians “is that Palestine is still a major Arab cause.” ‘, he said.

Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Morocco, normalized relations with Israel in 2020.

For Qatar, expressing support for the Palestinians was part of a “hedging strategy,” said Mehran Kamraba, a professor of government studies at Qatar’s Georgetown University.

Qatar “allows its people to vent their anger and symbolically show their support for Palestine, while the government is laying the groundwork for improving, if not fully normalizing relations.” .

Reporting by Andrew Mills, contributing from Charlotte Bruneau, Doha. Written by Andrew Mills and Tom Perry.Edited by Angus Maxwan

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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