Portugal’s World Cup match with Uruguay was suddenly halted
when a pitch invader entered the field with a pride flag and a t-shirt with
protest slogans printed on it. The invader entered the field of play at the
Lusali Stadium in the 50th minute with the scores at 0-0, wearing a t-shirt
that read ‘save Ukraine’ on the front and ‘respect for Iranian Women’ on the
back. He ran from near the sideline across most of the pitch before being
tackled by security.
The individual was also waving a rainbow flag, which is a
universal symbol of LGBTQ pride. It is taboo in Qatar, where homosexuality is
criminalized and all LGBTQ people are marginalized.
The front of the t-shirt was a reference to Russia’s
invasion of Ukraine. The back was about the women’s rights movement in Iran,
which has triggered a brutal crackdown from the country’s repressive
government. It has been the subject of significant demonstrations in and around
stadiums at this World Cup. Iran has also been criticised following the death of
22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in custody of the morality police.
Civil disturbance throughout Iran has witnessed hundreds of people killed
including many children.
The rainbow flag has been a symbol of controversy
throughout the tournament, with fans and players wanting to wear the
multi-colour armbands, shirts, and flags in protest of Qatar’s stand on the
Throughout the first week of the World Cup, fans and journalists
were denied entry to venues for wearing rainbow-colored t-shirts, masks, and
However, World Cup organizers have apologized for such
incidents and assured fans that pride apparel is allowed at venues.
FIFA also threatened European teams with “sporting
sanctions” if their players wore anti-discrimination armbands featuring rainbow
colors that were similar to the pride color scheme. Harry Kane was one of seven
European captains due to wear the ‘OneLove’ armband to raise awareness about
LGBTQ+ discrimination in Qatar, but backlash from hosts and FIFA led to the
teams backing down on their commitment.