The Football Association of Wales (FAW) says it is “extremely disappointed” by reports that supporters were “forced” to “remove and discard” their rainbow bucket hats in Qatar ahead of their World Cup opener against the USA.
Welsh fans, including the former Wales international Laura McAllister, said they were not allowed to enter the stadium Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha while wearing the hats, which were made in partnership with the FAW in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
The FAW also said some members of its staff had their rainbow bucket hats confiscated before entering the stadium.
Wales supporters and their “Red Wall” have worn the bucket hat over the past decade and a special rainbow version was produced ahead of the tournament in Qatar, where same-sex relationships are illegal.
In a statement, the FAW said they will be investigating the incidents of fans having their rainbow bucket hats removed by stadium staff and would address the matter with Fifa.
Wales, along with England and other European nations, reversed their decision to wear the anti-discrimination OneLove rainbow armbands after Fifa had threatened sporting sanctions.
Following the team’s 1-1 draw with the USA, Wales addressed the controversy surrounding the rainbow bucket hats and said: “On Monday Cymru returned to the World Cup for the first time in 64 years, an historic moment for the squad, the valued fans - The Red Wall / Y Wal Goch - and the nation.
“However, the Football Association of Wales (FAW) were extremely disappointed by reports that members of Y Wal Goch, which included FAW staff members, were asked to remove and discard their Rainbow Wall bucket hats before entry to the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. These bucket hats were created in partnership with the FAW.
“The FAW has collated information on these alleged incidents and will be addressing this matter directly with Fifa today. The FAW will not be releasing any further comment at this stage.”
McAllister, who was capped 24 times by Wales, spoke to ITV outside of the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium and said she had been told the rainbow bucket hat was a “banned symbol”.
She said: “Well we were aware while we were queueing up that there’d been some rumours about people wearing the rainbow bucket hat – it’s obviously a symbol of the LGBT Rainbow Wall in Wales – had their hats taken off them.
“So clearly I wasn’t going to take my hat off, I think some of the other fans were aware that was likely going to happen.
“And then when we got through security, some of the security guards said that we had to take the hat off.
“When I asked them why, they said, ‘Because it was a banned symbol’, and that we weren’t allowed to wear it in the stadium.
“And I pointed out that Fifa had made lots of comments about supporting LGBT rights in this tournament, and said to them that coming from a nation where we’re very passionate about equality for all people I wasn’t going to take my hat off.
“But then they were insistent that unless I took the hat off, we weren’t actually allowed to come into the stadium.
“We had to go and leave it in their sort of lost property area, so we were basically forced to go back out of the stadium and then take it to a lost property area.”
Wales’s Rainbow Wall, a group of LGBTQ+ supporters, had said on Monday night that female supporters had their rainbow hats taken away while male fans were allowed to keep them.
Wales’s Rainbow Wall wrote: “Our rainbow bucket hat. We are so proud of them, but news on the ground tonight is our Welsh female supporters wearing them in #Qatar are having them taken off them, not the men, just women. Fifa are you serious !! #LGBTQRights.”
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