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OneLove bands and plastic swords: what’s banned at Qatar World Cup

Belgium fans wearing rainbow T-shirts at their team’s opening match against Canada at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha on Wednesday
Belgium fans wearing rainbow T-shirts at their team’s opening match against Canada at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha on Wednesday. Photograph: Martin Meissner/AP

If you’re on your way to Qatar and looking forward to strolling up to Al Bayt Stadium in a bikini with a plastic sword in hand, OneLove band on your arm, rainbow hat on your head and raising a pint, you’re going to be disappointed.

The list of items banned at the World Cup continues to grow, most recently with reports that England fans have been told not to wear “crusader” costumes, occasionally favoured by middle-aged white men as misguided-at-best clothing for international matches.

Here we take a look at the items banned in Qatar so far.

Alcohol

Alcohol was banned for fans at the grounds in a last-minute and unprecedented volte-face two days before the tournament started. The sale of alcohol was limited to the Fifa fan festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues.

OneLove armbands

Fifa in effect banned the wearing of the armbands when it threatened to impose sanctions on any players who did so. A number of players, including the England captain, Harry Kane, had intended to wear the armband as a gesture, in part to highlight Qatar’s appalling human rights record, including but not limited to the treatment of LGBT+ people and the plight of potentially thousands of migrant workers who built the infrastructure for the tournament.

Rainbow hats

Football Association of Wales staff and Wales supporters have reportedly had rainbow-coloured bucket hats confiscated. Fifa and the Qataris were said to be in talks on the matter on Tuesday, where Fifa reminded the hosts of their assurances before the tournament that everyone was welcome and rainbow flags would be allowed.

Among reports were incidents of Welsh FA staff and fans being confronted by security for bringing the hats into the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium and a US fan with a rainbow flag being confronted on the metro. But on Friday, Fifa said fans would be allowed to wear rainbow bucket hats and take rainbow flags into the stadium for Wales’s match against Iran.

Bare chests

The Fifa stadium code of conduct states that fans must not “remove items of clothing or otherwise remain in a state of undress” – including being shirtless. And they must not “reveal intimate body parts”.

Plastic swords

The Times reported that England fans had been told not to dress as St George, the patron saint of England, portrayed as a “crusader knight” with mock chainmail and, often, a plastic sword.

The Crusades were a series of bloody religious wars in which Christian invaders, directed by the Latin church attempted to recover Jerusalem and its surrounding area from Islamic rule. Estimates of the death toll vary widely from 1.5 million to as many as 6 million. Fifa said: “Crusader costumes in the Arab context can be offensive against Muslims. That is why anti-discrimination colleagues asked fans to wear things inside out or change dress.”

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