Ex-Wales footballer Laura McAllister among fans 'refused entry' to stadium with rainbow hats
By ITV News Foreign Producer Natasha Tierney in Qatar
Wales fans attending their first match against the USA in Qatar tonight were confronted by security for wearing rainbow bucket hats.
Fans arriving at the Ahmed Bin Ali stadium told us that they were ordered to remove their hats or face not being allowed in to watch Wales’ historic first World Cup kick-off since 1958.
The hats in question are versions of the iconic Welsh football symbol, designed by LGBT+ football organisation The Rainbow Wall to promote inclusion and equality in the sport.
The news comes just hours after European football associations were told that players wearing ‘One Love’ armbands during matches could be penalised with yellow cards for doing so.
Laura McAllister - a former Wales national football captain herself - told ITV News that she was stopped by security guards who claimed that her hat was “a banned symbol”.
Footage appears to show Laura McAllister being told to remove the hat
“I pointed out that FIFA had made lots of comments about supporting LGBT rights in this tournament, and said to them that coming from a nation where we’re very passionate about equality for all people, I wasn’t going to take my hat off," she said.
"They were insistent that unless I took the hat off we weren’t actually allowed to come into the stadium.”
She said she had a “small moral victory” by managing to sneak the hat through in her handbag.
“I think we’ve had plenty of warning that this wasn’t going to be a tournament where human rights, LGBT rights and women’s rights were going to be well respected, but coming from a nation like Wales, we were very keen that we still took a stand coming here,” McAllister added.
Tonight The Rainbow Wall confirmed that they had heard multiple reports of fans in Qatar being denied entry to the match while wearing their rainbow bucket hats, as FIFA faces growing scrutiny over its treatment of LGBT+ football fans at this tournament.