Former Wales football captain Laura McAllister has discussed how she was refused entry to the Ahmad Bin Ali stadium in Qatar while wearing a rainbow bucket hat that represents the Wales team’s LGBTQ+ fan group.
Former Wales football captain Laura McAllister has described how she was told to remove her rainbow bucket hat at a World Cup stadium in Qatar.
McAllister, who played for her country between 1994 and 1998 and received 24 caps, wore the multi-coloured hat, a symbol of support for the LGBTQ+ community, when she arrived at the Wales versus USA match at the Ahmad Bin Ali stadium, but was then told by security staff that she would not be allowed in unless she took it off.
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and carries a maximum sentence of up to seven years in prison.
Describing the stadium staff’s behaviour as “pretty heavy-handed”, McAllister told BBC Breakfast: “As we were queuing to go into the stadium we’d heard that there’d been issues with some people in front of us who’d been asked to take off their hats to go into the stadium.
“So, fortunately, a few of us further back in the queue knew what was likely to happen.
“And sure enough as we went through security we were told by some of the stewards that we couldn’t enter the stadium wearing our rainbow hats.”
Officials gathered around her and told McAllister, the deputy chair of UEFA’s women’s football committee, to remove her hat, which was made by the Welsh FA’s LGBTQ+ supporters group The Rainbow Wall, in accordance with “regulations”.
“We were told it was a regulation – clearly I work in football, I work with UEFA, so I know the regulations – so I asked which regulation it applied to and we weren’t told that,” she added.
“We need to speak for the LGBT people at home who don’t feel able to come to Doha because of the regime and its position on gay rights,” she continued.
“We’re all horribly compromised by being here, so make no mistake: by being here we also need to make sure we don’t compromise on our values.”
She reiterated this message in a Twitter post, writing “This #WorldCup2022 just gets better and better but we will continue [to] stand up for our values.”
Speaking to ITV News, McAllister revealed that she did eventually manage to “sneak [the hat] in”, describing it as “a little moral victory”.
The Guardian reported that the Football Association of Wales is now investigating the circumstances around supporters having their rainbow hats confiscated on entering the stadium.
The US sports journalist Grant Wahl said that he was detained by security at the stadium after wearing a rainbow shirt to the same match.
Writing on his Substack newsletter, Wahl said the guards “refused to let me in, detained me for 25 minutes and angrily demanded that I remove my T-shirt”.
Yesterday, the FA confirmed that England captain Harry Kane and Wales captain Gareth Bale would no longer wear the OneLove rainbow armband for their respective matches against Iran and the USA, after Fifa threatened to sanction players doing so with a yellow card.
“Fifa has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” its statement said. “As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions, including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in Fifa World Cup games.”
BBC Sports presenter and former England and Arsenal footballer Alex Scott earned praise online for her decision to wear the armband while reporting from the match.
Images: Getty, BBC iPlayer
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