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Qataris wear pro-Palestinian armbands amid World Cup symbol row

November 24, 2022 at 8:23 pm

Football fans take part in an event as part of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in Musherib neighbourhood of Doha, Qatar on November 24, 2022. [Abdullah Kiswani – Anadolu Agency]

A handful of Qataris wore armbands featuring a pro-Palestinian design at the Japan-Germany World Cup match on Wednesday, according to photos posted on Twitter, amid a row over political symbols that are permitted at soccer’s main event, Reuters reports.

The armbands bore the black-and-white design of the keffiyeh scarf that is synonymous with the Palestinian cause and were an apparent response to players and officials protesting FIFA’s move to sanction players who wear the “OneLove” arm-band on the pitch.

Reuters confirmed the Twitter photos with stadium eyewitnesses.

Nearby, Germany’s Interior Minister, Nancy Faeser, sported the OneLove armband, which features a multi-coloured striped heart that promotes inclusion and opposes discrimination.

Last week, seven European teams abandoned plans to wear the armband onto the pitch after FIFA threatened them with sanctions.

Ahead of the kickoff on Wednesday, Germany’s players placed their hands over their mouths during a team photo in protest of the move by FIFA.

Japan went on to defeat Germany, 2-1.#Qatari officials have appeared increasingly vexed by what they see as unfair criticism of the decision to award Qatar World Cup hosting rights, especially by German officials, including Faeser.

READ: Qatar subject to ‘excessive campaign’ from World Cup criticism, French football chief says 

The World Cup, the first to be held in a Middle Eastern country, has focused a spotlight on LGBT+ rights in Qatar, where homosexuality remains illegal but some queer residents say they have more freedoms than their peers across the region.

Arabs snub Israel media at Qatar World Cup - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Arabs snub Israel media at Qatar World Cup – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

A few highly publicised incidents of security officials preventing ticketholders wearing pro-LGBT+ rainbow designs from entering World Cup stadiums added fuel to the debate over which political symbols are permitted at the games.

The tournament has also buoyed pro-Palestinian sentiments among some locals, especially in response to the Qatari government’s decision to allow direct flights from Tel Aviv for the World Cup, as well as a delegation of Israeli diplomats to handle logistics.

An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 Israeli fans are expected to visit Qatar during the month-long tournament.

Israelis are usually prevented from visiting Qatar, which does not officially recognise Israel, setting Palestinian statehood as a condition for recognition.

READ: Palestine wasn’t forgotten by football fans as FIFA World Cup kicked off in Qatar