The LGBTQ Community Is Being Sidelined at the World Cup

The LGBTQ Community Is Being Sidelined at the World Cup

As the FIFA World Cup closes out its first week of matches, LGBTQ sports fans and their allies attending the event in Qatar are experiencing opposition from the conservative host nation.

According to a recent report from AP, seven different European teams this week lost the right to wear “One Love” armbands in support of the LGBTQ community during World Cup matches. The armbands, which showcased a multi-colored heart design, were intended to be worn by captains from England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Wales.

In a last minute announcement, the Qatari World Cup committee decided to ban the accessories — threatening an immediate yellow card for any violation. All seven nations have opted to not wear the armbands as a result.

The German football association as said it is considering legal action against FIFA, and the German team posed for a silent protest photo with their hands over their mouths ahead of their game against Japan.

Beyond the players, some LGBTQ fans are also revealing that they have not been allowed to bring items with rainbow colors into World Cup stadiums. In some cases the items were confiscated by Qatari police. AP reports that one fan holding a small rainbow flag was approached by volunteers who called him "disgusting" and tried to intimidate him.

According to a statement given to CNN, a Qatar government official said ahead of the World Cup: "Everyone is welcome in Qatar. Our track record has shown that we have warmly welcomed all people regardless of background.” However, a FIFA ambassador in Qatar referred to homosexuality as a "damaged in the mind" in an interview with a German network.

Since the announcement that Qatar had been chosen to host the World Cup, some LGBTQ activists have warned about holding the world's largest sporting event in a stringently anti-LGBTQ country — where being gay is punishable with prison. Small protests have taken place around the world, including at the FIFA Museum in Switzerland.

Photo via Getty / Alexander Hassenstein / Ian MacNicol