Representational image of LGBTQ flag
U.S. Men's Soccer Team Sparks 'Outrage' Over LGBTQ Rainbow Crest On Jerseys Photo by Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images

Two football fans were stopped by security officials for wearing rainbow-colored armbands at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Two German football fans, Bengt Kunkel and his friend, who were on their way to watch the World Cup match between France and Denmark in Qatar on Saturday, Nov. 26, were asked by security officials to remove the rainbow-colored items that they were wearing. The incident reportedly underwent at the Msheireb Metro Station, in Doha, CNN reported.

Kunkel was wearing a rainbow-colored sweatband and his friend was sporting a similarly colored armband. When they were asked to remove the rainbow-colored items, they refused to hand them over the items. The rainbow is a symbol of LGBTQ+ pride. The security guards then took the Germans to one side. They were later let go on condition that they put the rainbow-colored items in their pockets.

“Out of nowhere. They took my friend quite aggressively on the arm and pushed him away from the crowd and told him to take it [the armband] off,” Kunkel said.

“Then they took me with him. They said: ‘You’re going to take it off and throw it in the bin or we’ll call the police.’”

The pair refused to throw their items in the bin and told security they could call the police.

“We had a little discussion, we were being respectful and said: ‘We’re not going to throw it away but we’re going to put it in our pockets’,” added Kunkel.

Kunkel and his friend were then allowed to walk down to the station platform. After coming outside Stadium 974, Kunkel put the rainbow-colored armband and wristband back on and walked through security. Kunkel said that he was stopped four more times before he was allowed to take his seat inside the stadium wearing the rainbow-colored items.

Kunkel had traveled to the World Cup to enjoy the soccer tournament. He also uses his social media platform to talk about LGBTQ+ issues and Qatar 2022. Kunkel, 23, a student sports journalist back in Germany, has been in Qatar with three friends since just before the World Cup kicked off.

He added that he has already had rainbow-colored items confiscated. He was removed from his seat at the Al Thumana Stadium during Senegal’s game against the Netherlands on Monday and was told to take off the items. The security then threw the items in the bin and Kunkel was allowed back to his seat.

“It’s quite a statement to throw a rainbow flag in the garbage,” added Kunkel.

“I’m not part of the LGBTQ community myself, but I can understand those who don’t want to come here [Qatar] because people of the community are being oppressed,” Kunkel said.

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