A Qatari academic has slammed an American sports journalist who faced hostility from security guards for wearing a rainbow shirt to a World Cup match in the Gulf State.
Grant Wahl donned a shirt that featured a soccer ball with the colours of the rainbow in support of the LGBTQ community when he tried to enter Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan for the United States versus Wales match on Monday.
But he was instantly stopped by guards at the stadium’s media entrance who ‘aggressively demanded’ he take off his shirt. He claimed one guard told him: ‘You have to change your shirt. It’s not allowed.’
The incident led to international uproar – but was defended by outspoken Qatari academic Dr Nayef bin Nahar, who said he was ‘proud of what happened’ and argued that Western values are not ‘universal’.
US sports journalist Grant Wahl (pictured) was initially refused entry to a World Cup match in Doha, Qatar and had security guards ‘aggressively demand’ he remove his rainbow shirt
Dr Al-Shammari, the director of the Ibn Khaldon Center for Humanities and Social Sciences at Qatar University, tweeted: ‘I don’t know when will the westerners realize that their values aren’t universal.
‘There are other cultures with different values that should be equally respected. Let’s not forget that the West is not the spokesperson for humanity.’
Mr Wahl described his ordeal on Twitter earlier this week, sharing a picture of himself standing outside a World Cup stadium.
Qatari academic Dr Nayef bin Nahar (pictured) praised the security guards for refusing Wahl entry before slamming ‘westerners’
‘Just now: Security guard refusing to let me into the stadium for USA-Wales,’ he wrote.
The US journalist said a guard then ‘forcibly ripped’ his phone from his hands after he sent out the tweet.
He waited outside the stadium for the next half an hour as the guards continued pressing him to remove his shirt.
‘One security guard told me that my shirt was ‘political’ and not allowed. Another continually refused to give me back my phone. Another guard yelled at me as he stood above me – I was sitting on a chair by now – that I had to remove my shirt,’ he wrote.
Wahl continually refused to remove his shirt and said it wasn’t ‘political’.
‘Eventually, the guards made me stand up, turn around and face the CCTV camera above us,’ Wahl added.
A security commander approached Wahl, apologised and allowed him to enter the stadium.
As he left the guards, one told him that security were only protecting him from fans inside who might’ve attacked him for wearing the shirt.
Wahl was trying to attend the United States vs Wales match at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar but was denied entry
Security guards outside the stadium ordered Wahl to remove the shirt and ripped his phone out of his hands after he sent out a tweet (pictured, security outside Al Bayt Stadium)
FIFA has claimed that rainbow flags and clothing would be allowed at World Cup matches.
Many backed Wahl in the comments section and were outraged over the treatment he received.
A rainbow on your clothing is not allowed? The entire ‘opening ceremony’ was about ‘Tolerance & Respect’ What’s going to happen when Teams Wear Rainbow arm bands?’ questioned one.
Another used said: ‘This country should absolutely not be hosting. FIFA should be ashamed.’
‘Quick reminder…Qatar agreed to allow rainbow symbols as part of their agreement with FIFA,’ wrote a third.
Another added: ‘Putting someone in prison for being who they are is not culture. It’s just barbaric.’
‘I’d respect all other parts of your culture 100% even if I don’t agree with them. But if you want to host a ‘WORLD’ cup be prepared to welcome the world.’
Some social media users told Wahl that he should ‘respect’ Qatar’s culture and rules.
Security eventually let the sports journalist into the stadium after he was detained for more than half an hour (pictured, a security guard outside a Doha hotel)
The controversial confrontation is the latest in a series of scandals that have plagued this year’s World Cup.
Despite allowing rainbow flags in crowds, FIFA says team captains could face a booking and potential suspension if they go through with a decision to wear the OneLove rainbow armband in a mark of solidarity for the LGBT+ community.
Captains of nine European nations, including USA’s Group B rivals England’s Harry Kane and Wales’ Gareth Bale, were planning to wear the One Love armbands promoting inclusivity and LGBTQ+ rights in Qatar.
England and six European nations since confirmed they will not wear the OneLove armbands in Qatar after FIFA threatened sporting sanctions for those wearing it.
England’s FA had expected a fine for breaching FIFA’s statutes but the prospect of Kane being booked, and hence facing a suspension, was a scenario English football’s governing body were concerned about.
The Three Lions’ talismanic striker did not don the armband in their opening game against Iran in the US’s Group B.
FIFA has strict rules about apparel that can be worn by players and the armband is not allowed under the code.
It comes as FIFA says team captains could face a booking and potential suspension if they go through with a decision to wear the OneLove rainbow armband (pictured, England captain Harry Kane)
Captains of nine European nations were planning to wear the armbands in a mark of solidarity for the LGBT+ community
Same sex relationships are illegal in Qatar. Male homosexuality is punishable by a prison sentence and same-sex marriages are not recognised by the government.
The country has received heavy criticism from other nations for its questionable human rights record including its treatment of gay people and women in the lead up to the global sporting event.
Qatar has also been blasted over the deaths of thousands of migrant workers who endured poor working conditions.
Data revealed 6500 migrant workers from countries including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died on construction sites in Qatar since it was announced the country won the right to host the event in 2010.