England fan ‘strip searched’ for wearing rainbow t-shirt at Qatar World Cup match

An England supporter at the World Cup says he was forced to “strip naked” and searched by stadium security for wearing a t-shirt with rainbow colours in Qatar.

England fan Anthony Johnson told the i newspaper that he was made to take off all his clothes, including his underwear, in front of a security official and was detained for 10 minutes.

Mr Johnson said he was stopped when attempting to enter the Al Bayt Stadium ahead of the match between the Netherlands and Qatar. He wearing a black sweatshirt and black baseball cap that featured the England football team crest in rainbow colours.

Fifa had said four days ago that fans were allowed to wear rainbow colours at stadiums following a number of incidents in Qatar which saw supporters and members of the media having items of clothing with rainbow colours confiscated earlier in the tournament.

The change in approach comes after a pitch invader carrying a rainbow flag stopped play during last night’s match between Portugal and Uruguay.

Mr Johnson, however, said he was confronted by stadium security and was accused of not respecting Qatar’s culture, despite Fifa’s assurances that rainbow colours would be allowed.

He told the i: “I was asked to take my watch and belt off which I haven’t been at the other eight games I have been to. When I went through again, a big burly security guard screamed in my face ‘You don’t respect our culture’.

“They then wand-ed me down. The wand didn’t activate but they said I had some metal on me and ushered me into a private area where they asked me to first take off my shorts, then my shoes, then take my pants down then my underwear then strip fully naked.

A pitch invader carrying a rainbow flag stopped play on Monday (Getty Images)
A pitch invader carrying a rainbow flag stopped play on Monday (Getty Images)

“Throughout, the guy was wand-ing my body and my clothes. He was almost apologetic by the end because it was obvious to us both he wouldn’t find anything. That all lasted about 10 minutes.”

Mr Johnson added that a security official had told to him regarding the rainbow colours, ‘We don’t care what Fifa say, we decide what comes in’ when he challenged them.

After a further 10 minutes, Mr Johnson was allowed into the stadium with his t-shirt and hat.

Reporter Daniel Storey, who broke the story, said afterwards that Mr Johnson was “really angry” but otherwise “okay” following the incident.