Two England fans in crusading outfits were banned from the Khalifa International Stadium for Monday’s 6-2 win against Iran to kick off the 2022 World Cup campaign. And since then, one has come forward and accused Qatari officials of forcing them not only to remove their £3,000 gear, but to strip completely naked before being allowed inside.
Qatari authorities have begun denying entry to the country’s stadiums to supporters dressed in the popular costume of metal helmets, chain mail, swords and the cross of St. George. The intersecting history of rape, killing and occupation of Arab land makes the outfit highly offensive in the Middle East.
The anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out has warned England fans that “knights or crusaders” may not be as much fun in Qatar as in previous World Cup host nations. And two men, who live in the Gulf state and helped build the stadiums for the winter tournament, found out the hard way earlier this week.
FIFA confirmed that they were turned away from the Doha stadium for being “offensive to Muslims”, adding that “colleagues against discrimination asked fans to put things on backwards or change their clothes”.
However, the duo have provided a different version of events to the Mailclaiming they were asked if they were “here to kill Muslims” before being subjected to “intimidating and vindictive” treatment by officers.
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And in an even more shocking development, one of the fans whose expensive outfit was confiscated claimed they were subjected to “ritual humiliation” in a private room outside the stadium.
The 57-year-old engineer said: “We are both big fans of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and our costumes are handmade in India – they are brilliant and cost £3,000 each. But we were first denied by staff at security checks coming through our helmets, then they said shields and rubber swords were a problem, then robes were offensive.
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“This went on for two and a half hours and made us lose the first half so we decided to get rid of all the equipment because we had paid over £180 for tickets. But when we were trying to get in we were taken to a room and told for us to strip naked. They didn’t even search us, and it was just a ritual humiliation.”
England supporters planning to visit Qatar for the remainder of the World Cup have been warned to refrain from wearing double-breasted outfits to avoid being denied entry to stadiums. And this pair’s chilling experience, if it can be believed, should be a necessary indicator to adhere to that guideline.
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