A protester with a rainbow flag runs on the pitch during the FIFA World Cup in anti-LGBTQ Qatar

LUSAIL, Qatar (AP) — A protester ran in the field Monday wearing a rainbow flag and wearing a blue Superman t-shirt that reads ‘SAVE UKRAINE’ on the front and ‘RESPECT FOR IRANIAN WOMAN’ on the back during a World Cup match between Portugal and Uruguay.

Security officials chased the protester and the flag was dropped on the field before the person was escorted away. The referee then picked up the flag and left it on the sidelines, where it lay for a few moments before a worker came to retrieve it.

The protester was evacuated through a tunnel. It was not immediately clear whether the person was facing charges or had been detained by police.

Thierry De Backer, FIFA’s media officer at the match, told The Associated Press he had “no idea” what happened to the protester. Local Qatari organizers did not comment.

A protester with a rainbow flag on the pitch during the FIFA World Cup match in Qatar between Portugal and Uruguay.

DeFodi Images via Getty Images

In the first week of the tournament in Qatar, seven European teams lost the battle to wear multicolored ‘One Love’ armbands during World Cup matches. Fans have also complained that they are not allowed to bring items bearing the colors of the rainbow, a symbol of LGBTQ rights, into stadiums in the conservative Islamic emirate.

Qatar’s laws against gay sex and the treatment of LGBTQ people have been flashpoints ahead of the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East. Qatar said everyone was welcome, including LGBTQ fans, but visitors should respect the country’s culture.

The incident happened during the second half of the match at the Lusail stadium.

Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes, who scored both goals in his side’s 2-0 win, said he was so focused on the game he didn’t really notice the protester’s intention and that he thought the protester might have wanted to take a picture with his star team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

“To be honest, I didn’t really see what the message was trying to get across,” Fernandes said through a translator. “But we have already talked about it several times. … We respect all human rights, but these are political issues on which unfortunately we don’t really have any strength, on which we really can’t change anything.”

Before the start of the World Cup, Fernandes said football should be “for everyone”, adding that he was not happy that workers had died building stadiums in Qatar.


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