World Cup federations have been told by Fifa that the rainbow flag is to be “welcomed” at stadiums in the next round of games after a series of incidents, culminating in the team captains of seven Uefa federations not wearing the OneLove armband.
The colours have become one of the tension points of the tournament as so many players, officials and fans want to make a gesture of solidarity towards the LGBTQ+ community over Qatar’s laws and culture around homosexuality.
Some supporters and media have had items of clothing with rainbow flags confiscated, most notably with security even instructing that bucket hats should be removed. There have been reports of cases where Welsh fans were simply wearing the colours of the country – red, yellow, white and green – only to be told to take them off.
A number of federations have raised this with Fifa, given they were told beforehand that it would be an open World Cup, and the global governing body has told federations it has been given assurances by the tournament’s Safety and Security Operations Committee that rainbow items will no longer be confiscated. It has gone so far that missives have been passed to security at stadiums to prevent what were described as “localised incidents”.
While officials naturally see it as a welcome development, it does have the potential to only deepen one of the World Cup’s many flashpoints if there are any more such confiscations.
The question that some within federations are asking is whether Fifa can even depend on such assurances, given the nature of how Qatari security has operated.