Two England fans dressed as knights say they were accused of being “Muslim killers” by Qatari police as FIFA announced a ban on “Crusader” fancy dress.
The two men claimed they were ordered to take off their chain mail and St George shields outside England’s first match against Iran.
Social media footage of the two men showed them being led away by Qatari security.
Speaking for the first time, the two men, who did not wish to be named, told the Telegraph they were “definitely not racists” and claimed they had been dressed as knights from Monty Python rather than Crusaders.
Both are British expats who have lived in Doha for several years.
“It was ridiculous,” one of the men said. “We turned up and the police first told us we couldn’t take the swords in, even though they are made out of foam. Then a captain came running after us saying we couldn’t wear the chainmail.
“At one point one of them asked 'Are you Muslim killers?' Of course we aren’t Crusaders. We’ve lived here for years and we have no problems with Muslims at all - we work with them every day.
“It took two and half hours before they eventually let us in, wearing England shirts. This is just total woke madness. I blame Fifa. You can’t wear anything nowadays without someone taking offence.”
England fans have supported the team for years while dressed as St George, the patron saint often depicted as a Crusader warrior knight on horseback. The best-known Crusades took place between 1095 and 1291, when Christian armies fought to seize Jerusalem and the surrounding area from Islamic rule.
The two men said they feared reprisals from the Qatari authorities, and were only comfortable being photographed in their full costumes in a cellar.
“Now we are worried about the Qataris coming after us - they’ve got cameras everywhere. We were dressed as Monty Python, for god’s sake. One of us had coconuts to do the horses clip-clopping from the film.
“On the way to the stadium everyone loved us, including the Qataris. They took pictures, and they couldn’t get enough of us.
The two men would only be photographed in a storage cupboard with their helmets down. One said: "We can't show our faces, or go outside. The Qataris see everything. They'll come after us."
However other England fans said supporters should "read the room" and avoid dressing up in Crusader costumes at the Qatar World Cup.
One fan told the Telegraph: “I don’t dress up as a Crusader. Read the room, we’re in the Middle East. You don’t dress up as a Crusader when you’re in the Arab world. So don’t be surprised when they don’t let you in.”
Fifa announced a ban on Crusader costumes after Islamophobia charities warned the garb could be offensive to Muslims.
In a statement Fifa said: “Crusader costumes in the Arab context can be offensive against Muslims. That is why anti-discrimination colleagues asked fans to wear things inside out or change dress.”
A spokesman for Kick It Out, a charity campaigning against racism and discrimination in football, warned fans against dressing up in knight costumes in Qatar.
“We would advise fans who are attending FIFA World Cup matches that certain attire, such as fancy-dress costumes representing knights or crusaders, may not be welcomed in Qatar and other Islamic countries. Foreign Office travel advice issued before the tournament expressed that fans should familiarise themselves with local customs, and we would encourage fans to take this approach."
In the weeks leading up to the World Cup, British police warned of the risk of England fans inadvertently offending Qatari locals.
Mark Roberts, Cheshire Chief Constable and English National Football Lead, said: “It’s a World Cup in a different part of the world with a very different culture, and I think one of my fears is that supporters not wishing to cause offence or cause problems may act in a way that inadvertently causes offence or draws attention.”