Gareth Bale sparks emotional scenes as the Red Wall celebrates Wales’ draw against the USA
Bronwen Weatherby and Richard Wheeler, in Doha
Wales battled hard to secure a 1-1 draw in their first World Cup game in 64 years.
A one-sided first half saw the USA taking the lead through Timothy Weah, but Wales improved after the break and captain Gareth Bale levelled from the penalty spot.
It sparked emotional scenes in the stands and led Wales to secure a point on their first appearance at the World Cup since 1958.
Father and son Pelham and Ryan Morgan, aged 60 and 28, from Cardiff, described the atmosphere inside the stadium as “fantastic”.
“What an experience – seeing Wales score at the World Cup,” Mr Morgan senior told the PA news agency.
“The first half was a bit dodgy but I think it was the nerves, we were all nervous.
“I can’t do this anymore I’m an old man, the stress is too much.”
Gareth Howells, 47, from Swansea, said: “First half we were rubbish but the second half we turned it around.
“We’re going to have to shape up going into the Iran game, let’s have more of the second half.”
Lee Matthews, 43, from the Rhondda who was with his son Gethin, 12, said they had a great experience being among the USA fans.
“I was pleased when we made them go a bit quieter in the second half though,” Mr Matthews said.
“I wasn’t nervous at all when Bale came forward for the penalty.
“We both got our phones out because we knew he’d score.
“Now on to the next game.”
Luke Ruiz, 27, and Hardeep Dhatt, 29, from Newport, described the team’s performance as “shocking” in the first 40 minutes and accused Bale of being “lazy”.
“It was the wrong line-up, the team they brought out in the second half should have been it from the start,” Mr Ruiz said.
Despite the disappointing show in the first half, he said the experience was “amazing”.
Talking about the US fans, he said: “They were great, a real laugh, but they only have two songs.”
The pair had travelled six hours by taxi across the Qatari border from Bahrain, and had a taxi waiting for them after the match to take them back.
The jubilation on and off the pitch was in contrast to the fury ahead of the game as female Wales supporters wearing rainbow bucket hats had them “confiscated” in Qatar ahead of the group B clash.
Wales’ Rainbow Wall, a group of LGBTQ+ supporters, said male supporters wearing the hats were allowed to keep them but the items were taken from women.
Former Wales international footballer Laura McAllister, now a professor at Cardiff University, wrote on Twitter: “So, despite fine words from @FIFAWorldCup before event, @Cymru rainbow bucket hats confiscated at stadium, mine included.
“I had a conversation about this with stewards – we have video evidence. This #WorldCup2022 just gets better but we will continue stand up for our values.”
The bucket hat has become the must-have accessory for Wales fans over the past decade.
The yellow, green and red hats are worn in their thousands by the so-called “Red Wall”, with a rainbow version also produced.
Wales’ Rainbow Wall wrote: “Our rainbow bucket hat. We are so proud of them, but news on the ground tonight is our welsh female supporters wearing them in #Qatar are having them taken off them, not the men, just women.
“@Fifacom are you serious !! #LGBTQRights.”
PA news agency understands a US supporter was threatened on the Metro travelling to the stadium for carrying a small rainbow flag.
The man who appeared to be a Qatar supporter threatened to “kill” the man, and was saying the flag “was not allowed” and “that flag is banned in this country”.
“We have our own culture”, he added.
Wales and US fans, as well as Qatari security guards, intervened to protect the fan carrying the flag, which is a symbol of LGBTQ+ rights and pride.
Wales, along with England and other European nations, earlier confirmed they would not be wearing the anti-discrimination One Love rainbow armbands after governing body Fifa threatened sporting sanctions.
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