Outrage as security guards intimidate World Cup fans wearing pride symbol

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By Chris De Silva and Emily Patterson

American journalist Grant Wahl has detailed a frightening experience at the World Cup where he was detained for 25 minutes for wearing a t-shirt with the pride colours on it.

And it seems Wahl is far from the only person to have had trouble with guards, with former Wales captain Laura McAllister also pulled aside at the gate and instructed to remove a rainbow-coloured bucket hat.

Wahl had worn the t-shirt as he attempted to watch Senegal take on the Netherlands, but encountered some trouble when security guards asked him to “change your shirt”, adding that “it’s not allowed”.

The guards’ commands flew in the face of FIFA’s own guidelines, which indicated that the pride flag would be welcome at the World Cup.

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Wahl sent out this tweet detailing his experience before his phone was also “forcibly” grabbed from his hands by a guard.

Eventually, Wahl was let go when a “security commander” arrived on the scene, and he continued to wear the t-shirt in question while watching the United States take on Wales.

Former Wales captain McAllister spoke after also being pulled up for wearing a rainbow hat.

“Clearly, I wasn’t going to take my hat off,” she told ITV News.

“When I asked them why they said it was because [the rainbow] was a banned symbol and that we weren’t allowed to wear it in the stadium.

“I pointed out that FIFA had made lots of comments about supporting LGBT rights this tournament and coming from a nation where we’re very passionate about ensuring that there’s equality for all people, I wasn’t going to take my hat off.

“I had a little moral victory in that I was able to sneak [the hat] in and who knows I might even wear it.

“I think we’ve had plenty of warning that this wasn’t going to be a World Cup where human rights, LGBT rights and women’s rights are well respected, but I think coming from a nation like Wales, we were very keen that we still took a stand.

“It’s really important that we stick to our values – that we don’t bend because there is not much point having principles if you’re prepared to give them up the minute someone challenges you.”

The bucket hat is the symbol of the LGBTQ+ Rainbow Wall supporter group in Wales.

Since being awarded the World Cup hosting rights in 2010, Qatar has been heavily criticised for its criminalisation of homosexuality.

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