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HomeWorld NewsQatar World Cup: Laura McAllister told to remove rainbow bucket hat -...

Qatar World Cup: Laura McAllister told to remove rainbow bucket hat – BBC

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Laura McAllister said it was important to confront a lack of tolerance
An ex-Wales football captain has said she felt intimidated when she was told to remove her rainbow bucket hat as she entered a World Cup stadium in Qatar.
Laura McAllister, a gay woman and past Fifa Council candidate, said she was told she could not wear the hat for Wales' opener against the USA.
Ms McAllister said she then smuggled the hat into the stadium.
Fifa – world football's governing body, which is responsible for the tournament – has been asked to comment.
The "rainbow wall" version of Welsh fan hats shows support for the LGBTQ+ community.
The Football Association of Wales (FAW) said it was "extremely disappointed" by reports that supporters and FAW staff members were asked to remove and discard their Rainbow Wall bucket hats before entry to the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.
"The FAW has collated information on these alleged incidents and will be addressing this matter directly with Fifa today (Tuesday)," it said.
A Welsh government minister said it was seeking "urgent clarification that rainbow bucket hats or laces or T-shirts are not banned from stadia".
Video footage taken of the incident appears to show officers telling her to remove the hat.
"It was pretty heavy handed… It was quite intimidating," Ms McAllister told BBC Breakfast.
"I'm experienced enough to cope with it but if it had been a young person, a young girl who hadn't been prepared for that, it would have been a very unpleasant and intimidating experience.
"As we were queuing to go into the stadium we'd heard that there'd been issues with some people in front of us who'd been asked to take off their hats to go into the stadium.
"So fortunately a few of us further back in the queue knew what was likely to happen," she said.
"And sure enough as we went through security we were told by some of the stewards that we couldn't enter the stadium wearing our rainbow hats."
She said "right away" a few officials gathered round her and told her that she had to take the hat off.
"We were told it was a regulation – clearly I work in football, I work with Uefa, so I know the regulations – so I asked which regulation it applied to and we weren't told that."
Ms McAllister said the hat was "snuck" into the stadium after the incident.
"I certainly wasn't going to give it up. It's an important symbol of everything that we're about in Welsh football at the moment and hopefully the wider nation.
It comes after national team captains, including Wales' Gareth Bale, were told not to wear One Love armbands. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.
"We're here to live our own values as a nation and with Wales being in the World Cup for the first time in six decades, it's important to show what our country's all about, and that is about inclusion and tolerance and diversity," Ms McAllister said.
The incident comes despite previous assurances that fans would be allowed to wear them.
"We need to speak for the LGBT people at home who didn't feel able to come to Doha because of the regime and its position on gay rights," Ms McAllister said.
"We're all horribly compromised by being here so make no mistake, so by being here we also need to make sure we don't compromise on our values."
She stressed that Fifa had said it would allow the rainbow symbol in the stadium.
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Ex-Wales footballer Laura McAllister says Qatari security asked her to remove a "rainbow wall" bucket cap
"It was the complete opposite of that," she said. "It was contrary to everything we were being told to expect really, and that was what was so disappointing."
"If Fifa calls for an inclusive World Cup then we need to include everyone in that," she added.
A group of her friends had rainbow wrist bands removed, she said, and another friend had his rainbow laces removed from his shoes.
The bucket hat has become the must-have accessory for Wales fans over the past decade.
The yellow, green and red hats are worn in their thousands by the so-called Red Wall, with a rainbow version also produced.
Tracy Brown from Rainbow Wall, Wales' LGBTQ+ supporters' group, told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast she was not surprised fans were asked to remove the hats.
"We were all anticipating that this would actually happen," she said.
"Fifa have a habit of going back on their word. That started a couple of days before with the drinking issues within stadiums."
She said the threat of sanctions for individual players wearing OneLove arm bands, which promote diversity and inclusion, had put everyone in a "difficult situation".
"Obviously LGBTQ+ groups were not happy with that decision and yes, we have done a lot of work with the FAW [Football Association Wales] and will continue to do work. But now we have to work out another way to be vocal for discrimination as a whole," Ms Brown said.
"This is not just about the rainbow wall, this is about discrimination for everybody. This is about all of our human rights."
Meanwhile, an American journalist, Grant Wahl, said in a Tweet he was stopped for half an hour by security for wearing a rainbow-themed t-shirt.
He was later allowed to enter the stadium perimeter, he added.
"Finally a commander came through, said I could go through, and apologised," he told the BBC.
Wales' Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths told the Senedd that she also knew "somebody in Qatar last night that was asked to take their rainbow laces out of their trainers".
Ms Griffiths was answering First Ministers Questions while Mark Drakford returns from watching the Wales-USA game.
Answering a question from Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price, she said the Welsh government had been "in dialogue" with the British embassy in Doha seeking "urgent clarification that rainbow bucket hats or laces or T-shirts are not banned from stadia, and I very much hope we won't see a repeat of that".
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said he raised issues about "being a welcoming World Cup host" with Qatar during a visit for the start of the tournament, after reports that fans wearing rainbow clothing had faced problems.
"I've just returned from Qatar. We raised the issues of being a welcoming host nation and the Qataris are very keen to do so," he said.
"My duty is to make sure that the English and Welsh fans that are in Qatar to enjoy the football are able to do so: enjoy themselves, be themselves, and be safe and secure whilst they're doing it."
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