Downing Street say they are ‘monitoring situation’ after Welsh rainbow bucket hats confiscated
10 Downing Street has now commented on the issue of Welsh rainbow bucket hats being confiscated, with a spokesperson saying they were closely monitoring the situation.
Former Wales team captain Laura McAllister, who is an ambassador for her country at the tournament, was among a number of women told to remove the hats before Wales’ game against the US in Qatar on Monday.
Asked about the incident, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Obviously it’s not the approach that this Government would take if we were hosting any tournament. LGBT rights are a fundamental part of the United Kingdom.
“We have raised concerns about LGBT visitors with the Qatari authorities at all levels leading up to the tournament and obviously we will continue to monitor it carefully.”
He added: “We will monitor carefully UK fans in the region and how they are treated and obviously people are going there to enjoy a football tournament, first and foremost, and we are confident that’s what the Qataris will want to be focused on as well, facilitating people supporting their teams.”
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, asked about the confiscation of rainbow bucket hats and a fan being denied entry to the stadium for wearing a rainbow t-shirt, told broadcasters in London: “The rules as to what fans wear when they enter the stadia, that is ultimately a decision for the football authorities.
“The conversations I’ve had with the Qatari authorities, I’ve just returned from Qatar, we raised the issues of being a welcoming host nation and the Qataris are very keen to do so, and I also had the opportunity to visit our consular teams and our international policing teams.
“So, my duty is to make sure that the English and Welsh fans that are in Qatar to enjoy the football are able to do so, enjoy themselves, be themselves, and be safe and secure whilst they’re doing it.”
The Football Association of Wales (FAW) had earlier released a statement on the issue of rainbow bucket hats being confiscated before Monday’s opening match against the US.
The statement said FAW members of staff were among those asked to remove the hats, a symbol of LGBTQ+ rights, and that they were collecting information on alleged incidents and would be addressing them directly with Fifa on Tuesday.
The FAW said: “On Monday, Cymru returned to the Fifa World Cup for the first time in 64 years, an historic moment for the squad, the valued fans – the Red Wall / Y Wal Goch – and the nation.
“However, the Football Association of Wales (FAW) were extremely disappointed by reports that members of Y Wal Goch, which included FAW staff members, were asked to remove and discard their Rainbow Wall bucket hats before entry to the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. These bucket hats were created in partnership with the FAW.
“The FAW has collated information on these alleged incidents and will be addressing this matter directly with Fifa today (November 22).
“The FAW will not be releasing any further comment at this stage.”
Ms McAllister said she was furious at being told to take her hat off but told ITV it was important to “stick to our values”.
“I think we’ve had plenty of warning that this wasn’t going to be a World Cup where human rights and LGBT rights and women’s rights were well respected, really,” she said.
“But coming from a nation like Wales, we were very keen that we still took a stand.”
Mae cefnogwyr sydd â nwyddau gyda symbol yr enfys arnynt wedi profi trafferthion wrth fynd i mewn i’r stadiwm i wylio Cymru.
— Newyddion S4C (@NewyddionS4C) November 21, 2022
Tim Hartley, a Wales fan and head of fan charity Gol Cymru, told PA: “This whole tournament leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.
“When you think that Fifa and Qatar couldn’t get it any more wrong, they do something like this.”
Some fans have claimed they were told the rainbow-coloured items were being confiscated for their own safety.
A PA journalist witnessed a US fan being threatened for carrying a miniature rainbow flag on the Doha Metro by a man who appeared to be a Qatar supporter.
The man threatened to “kill” the fan and said “that flag is banned in this country”.
Wales and USA fans had to intervene to defuse the situation.
It comes after Wales and England made a last minute U-turn on wearing OneLove rainbow armbands after Fifa threatened team captains Gareth Bale and Harry Kane with sporting sanctions.
BBC pundit and former England player Alex Scott wore a OneLove armband during a live broadcast from England’s match against Iran.
There were also complaints before England and Wales’s matches about the ticketing system which caused chaos at the turnstiles.
Technical issues meant hundreds of fans missed the start of England v Iran at Khalifa International Stadium on Monday.
Wales fans were urged to head to their game at least three hours early to get around any issues getting into the stadium.
The Wales Fan Embassy called for the Fifa system’s glitches to be rectified ahead of the country’s match with Iran on Friday.
Wales fans are also said to have had a number of large banners and flags confiscated heading into the stadium on Monday, despite pre-registering them weeks in advance, as required by Fifa.
Some reported that the banners were missing at the end of the game, and have appealed on social media to find them.
Paul Corkrey, from the Wales FSA, said the tournament had been “a shambles” so far.
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