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Censorship, pitch invasion and anti-racist act: players and fans make Qatar the Cup of protests

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In a country known for conservatism, protesters find ways to demonstrate support for political causes

Chandan KHANNA / AFP

Protests marked the beginning of the 2022 World Cup

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Even before the ball rolls in Qatar for the first time and World Cup 2022 actually start, one thing was already certain: this would be an edition marked by political demonstrations. When the whistle blew and the ball rolled, all predictions were confirmed. It didn’t come in the opening game, but in the following matches, like the second game of the tournament, between England and Iran. On one side, the English knelt on the field before the ball rolled to protest against racism and in favor of human rights – issues that have been hotly debated since Qatar was announced as the host country. Bukayo Saka, English player who was one of the highlights in the 6-2 victory over Iran, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were victims of racial insults when the country was participating in Euro 2020. The athletes’ act was an anti-racist manifestation of crimes like these. Protests against racism were also repeated in the match against Wales. “We discussed taking a knee and came to the conclusion that we must do what we believe in as a team and we have done that for a long time,” said manager Gareth Southgate.

On the part of Iran, also in the opening match, the players stopped singing the anthem in a sign of support for the demonstrations that have taken place in the country since September, when Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old girl, died after being taken away by the morale police. for wearing the hijab ‘incorrectly’. Since then, a wave of protests has been unleashed in a fight for women’s rights. In an interview after the game, the coach of the Will, Carlos Queiroz, admitted that his team’s players are suffering from the pressure of protests in the country. Speaking after the match against the English, Queiroz stated that the political situation affected the team. “It’s not good to come to the Worlds and ask them to do things that are not their responsibility. They want to make the people proud and happy”, said the coach to the press. “You have no idea what these guys have been living behind closed doors these past few days. No matter what they say, people want to kill them. Can you imagine being at a point in your life where you can be murdered for everything you say? We certainly have feelings and beliefs and in due time, at the right moment, we express them”, concluded Queiroz.

2022 world cup protests

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Iranian fans wave the national flag with the words “Women, Life, Freedom” | FADEL SENNA / AFP

The demonstrations also came from the crowd, who carried posters and a flag in support of the demonstrations. Women appeared holding a sign with the message “Woman – life – freedom” [Mulher, vida e liberdade, em tradução livre]🇧🇷 In Iran’s game against Wales, some fans were prevented from entering the stadium because they were wearing shirts that showed support for the protests. Those who managed to enter had objects confiscated by the police. A man with the “Woman, life and freedom” flag, a woman with dark red tears painted in her eyes holding a soccer jersey with “Mahsa Amini – 22” printed on the back, a reference to the Iranian Kurd, and another fan who was with the flag of Iran with an “x” in the middle, had the parts collected by the security of the event.

In addition to these gestures, Harry Kane, English captain, would enter the field in the opening match with the “One Love” armband to demonstrate in favor of human rights and LGBTQIA+, but was prevented by the FIFA, who threatened punishment with a yellow card. In a letter signed by FIFA president Gianni Infantino and general secretary Fatma Samoura, they asked that football not be “dragged” into the political or ideological battlefield. But the entity’s ultimatum did not intimidate the players. Before the ball rolled, they wore an armband that said “No descrimination”. “One Love” was also present. The protest came via reporter and former England women’s international Alex Scott and home minister, Nancy Faeser, who wore the piece while watching the England-US gamevalid for the second round of the group stage

Germany was another team that took advantage of the moment to express itself. Like Kane, Manuel Neuer, the German captain, was going to wear the “One Love” armband, but after FIFA informed that there would be punishment, he chose not to use it. However, before the match against Japan, all Germany players covered their mouths, saying they were censored by the entity. The act did not go over well with supporters in Qatar. They took advantage of the game against Spain, valid for the second round, to give the Germans an answer. Some people who were at the stadium on Sunday, 27, took images of Mesut Özil, a German player who, when he announced his retirement after the elimination of the four-time champion in 2018, in the Russian Cup, said he felt persecuted and discriminated against by the German Football Federation due to Turkish descent and being favorable to immigration and multiculturalism in German society.

protester enters with LGBT flag on the lawn

Demonstrator made three protests at once in the match between Portugal and Uruguay │EFE/EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh

The game between Portugal and Uruguay had no protest from the players, however, it was marked by the first invasion of the field of the Cup. A fan invaded the lawn carrying an LGBTQIA+ flag and wearing a shirt with the words “Respect for Iranian Woman” and “Save Ukraine”. The man was removed by security at the event and the images of the moment of the invasion were not transmitted by FIFA. In recent days, a pro-Palestinian movement has been present in some games and marked the second invasion on the pitch. A man ran across the field with a Palestinian flag. He was also detained by security. In the stands there were also movements in support of the gesture and requests for Palestine to be recognized as a nation. The group stage of the World Cup proved something Nelson Rodrigues said a long time ago: “The poor are those who imagined football limited to events on the pitch”.

Source: Jovempan

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