Soccer Qataris wear pro-Palestinian armbands amid row of World Cup symbols

DOHA, Nov 24 (Reuters) – A handful of Qataris wore armbands with a pro-Palestinian design at Wednesday’s World Cup match between Japan and Germany, photos posted on Twitter show, amid a row over political symbols allowed in football Event.

The armbands sported the black and white design of the keffiyeh scarf, which represents the Palestinian cause, and was an apparent response to players and officials protesting FIFA’s move to sanction players wearing the “OneLove” armband carry to the field.

Reuters confirmed the Twitter photos with eyewitnesses from the stadium.

Nearby, Germany’s Interior Minister Nancy Faeser wore the OneLove bracelet, which features a multicolored striped heart that promotes inclusion and opposes discrimination.

Last week, seven European teams abandoned plans to wear the armband on pitch after FIFA threatened them with sanctions.

Before kick-off on Wednesday, Germany’s players covered their mouths during a team photo to protest the change in world football.

Japan defeated Germany 2-1.

Qatari officials seem increasingly annoyed by what they consider to be unfair criticism of the decision to award hosting rights to Qatar, particularly from German officials, including Faeser.

The World Cup, the first to be held in a Middle Eastern country, has put a spotlight on LGBT+ rights in Qatar, where homosexuality remains illegal but some queer residents say they have more freedoms than their peers in the UK entire region.

Some publicized incidents of security officials preventing ticket holders wearing pro-LGBT+ rainbow designs from entering World Cup stadiums have fueled debate over what political symbols will be allowed at the games.

The tournament has also fueled pro-Palestinian sentiment among some locals, particularly in response to the Qatari government’s decision to allow direct flights from Tel Aviv for the World Cup, as well as a delegation of Israeli diplomats to handle logistics.

An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 Israeli fans will visit Qatar during the month-long tournament.

Israelis are usually barred from visiting Qatar, which does not officially recognize Israel and sets Palestinian statehood as a condition of recognition.

Reporting by Andrew Mills; Edited by Paul Simao

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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