Football fans at the Qatar World Cup could have rainbow flags taken off them to 'protect them' from being attacked for promoting LGBTQ+ rights in the middle eastern country.
Homosexual relationships between men are illegal in Qatar which can lead to prison sentences, and there is even the possibility of a death penalty for Muslim men.
That has led to many fans questioning whether they would attend the World Cup in November and December, with Australian Josh Cavallo, the only active openly gay footballer, saying he would be 'scared' to go.
Qatar have said that they would welcome LGBTQ+ couples to the country for the tournament, and FIFA previously claimed rainbow flags would be allowed inside stadiums.
However, that has now been brought into question, with Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ansari claiming that they could be removed to 'protect fans.'
"If he [a fan] raised the rainbow flag and I took it from him, it’s not because I really want to, really, take it, to really insult him, but to protect him," Al Ansari is quoted as saying by AP.
"Because if it’s not me, somebody else around him might attack [him]...
"I cannot guarantee the behavior of the whole people. And I will tell him,'Please, no need to really raise that flag at this point.'"
Al Ansari continued to tell fans not to 'insult the whole society' when they're in Qatar, adding, "You want to demonstrate your view about the [LGBTQ] situation, demonstrate it in a society where it will be accepted.
"We realise that this man got the ticket, comes here to watch the game, not to demonstrate, a political [act] or something which is in his mind.
"Watch the game. That's good. But don't really come in and insult the whole society because of this."
On fans coming to the World Cup, Al Ansari said, "Reserve the room together, sleep together - this is something that's not in our concern.
"We are here to manage the tournament. Let's not go beyond, the individual personal things which might be happening between these people... this is actually the concept.
"Here we cannot change the laws. You cannot change the religion for 28 days of World Cup."
Last summer UEFA banned Germany from lighting the Allianz Arena in the rainbow colours for their Euro 2020 match with Hungary, in the group stages.
There had been a law change in Hungary just weeks before which banned the dissemination of content in schools which are deemed to promote homosexuality and the topic of gender change.
UEFA did allow sponsors in the grounds to include the rainbow flag on the hoardings however.
Featured Image Credit: PA
Topics: Football World Cup, FIFA, Qatar