US sports journalist says he was detained at Qatar World Cup over LGBT rainbow shirt

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By Euronews  with Reuters, AFP
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An American journalist has claimed that he was briefly detained on Monday after trying to enter World Cup stadium in Qatar -- where same-sex relationships are outlawed -- while wearing a rainbow shirt in support of the LGBT community.

Grant Wahl, a former writer for Sports Illustrated magazine who currently runs his own website, said World Cup security barred him from attending United States' match against Wales at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan and asked him to take his shirt off.

He said his phone was taken away when he wrote about the incident on Twitter.

"I'm OK, but that was an unnecessary ordeal," Wahl tweeted. "Was detained for nearly half an hour."

The journalist subsequently claimed that a security commander later approached him, apologised and admitted him to the stadium. 

Wahl also said he later received an apology from a representative of FIFA, football's international governing body.

Former Welsh national team captain Laura McAllister and a Welsh supporters' association said they had to take off their rainbow hats to watch the 1-1 draw between the United States and Wales on Monday, in a further sign of tensions at the World Cup in 2002 over LGBT+ symbols.

A video posted on Twitter by the Welsh LGBT supporters' association Rainbow Wall shows the ex-captain walking through the gate with her hat on before a female officer and then a security guard pointed at it and, she said, ordered her to take it off.

McAllister told ITV News that she was told it was a "forbidden symbol" and she and others were told to leave the items in a lost property zone outside the stadium. But she put it in her bag instead and brought it back inside in what she called a "small moral victory".

Seven European World Cup countries earlier on Monday scrapped plans for their respective captains to wear OneLove armbands -- introduced to support diversity and inclusion -- after FIFA threatened to issue yellow cards to any player wearing the multi-coloured armband.

Qatar has come under intense scrutiny from many Western countries over its treatment of the LGBT community and migrant workers, although FIFA's head Gianni Infantino deemed such criticism 'hypocritical', stating that "Europeans should be apologising for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons to people."