A protester carrying a rainbow flag and wearing a ‘Save Ukraine’ T-shirt invaded the pitch of Portugal’s World Cup group stage match with Uruguay; the spectator also had the words ‘Respect for Iranian Women’ on back of his shirt
Image: A protester invades the pitch during Portugal’s World Cup match with Uruguay
A protester carrying a rainbow flag and wearing a ‘Save Ukraine’ T-shirt invaded the pitch of Portugal’s World Cup group-stage match with Uruguay.
The supporter, whose blue top had the Superman logo on the front and the words ‘Respect Iranian Women’ on the back, entered the field of play during the second half.
Security officials chased the person down and he dropped the flag on the field before being escorted off the field. The referee then picked up the flag and left it on the sideline, where it stayed for a few moments before a worker came and collected it.
Image: The protester invaded the field of play before being taken off the pitch by stewards
The incident comes amid a tournament which has been surrounded by controversy over hosts Qatar’s treatment of the LGBTQ community as well as anti-government demonstrations in Iran.
In the weeks leading up to the tournament, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report claimed security forces in Qatar have been arbitrarily arresting and abusing LGBT Qataris recently.
Furthermore, former Qatari footballer Khalid Salma – an ambassador for the World Cup – described homosexuality as “damage in the mind”.
In the first week of the tournament, seven European teams lost the battle to wear multi-coloured “One Love” armbands during World Cup matches, with FIFA threatening sporting sanctions such as yellow cards and match bans for the captains who wore them.
Some fans also complained they were not allowed to bring items with rainbow colours, a symbol of LGBTQ rights, into the stadiums of the conservative Islamic emirate.
Meanwhile in Iran, widespread demonstrations have followed the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died in the custody of Iran’s morality police in September after being detained for alleged violations of the country’s strict dress code.
Before the tournament began, FIFA president Gianni Infantino told the 32 competing teams to “focus on the football” amid the controversies.
Stuart Andrew, the UK sports minister, has said he will wear the OneLove armband at the World Cup between Wales and England on Tuesday evening.
Mr Andrew, himself a member of the LGBTQ+ community, said he is “not going to shy away from who I am”.
The UK’s first openly gay sports minister said he was determined to make the gesture even though the world’s football governing body FIFA has warned players they could be booked for making political protests.
Asked whether he would wear the armband and risk upsetting the World Cup host, Mr Andrew told the Evening Standard: “I absolutely will be doing so.
“I’m not going to shy away from who I am. Our message very much is that no one should have to hide who they are.”