England fans could have their Qatari parade rained on as local police are being asked to clamp down on loud chanting in public. Thousands of supporters have made the trek over to the Middle East to cheer on Gareth Southgate’s side, who got their World Cup campaign off to a flying start on Monday.
Even the most ambitious England fan may not have expected a six-goal showing against Iran, who beat Uruguay and drew with Senegal in the lead-up to the tournament. But two goals from Bukayo Saka and a superb performance from Jude Bellingham contributed towards the handsome 6-2 victory, which was roared on by travelling supporters.
A group of South American fans were also in fine voice after Ecuador beat Qatar in the tournament’s curtain-raiser on Sunday. That came much to the annoyance of some locals, who asked local cops to intervene and do something about the noise. Express Sport was on hand to witness the incident in Doha.
Patrolling officers subsequently warned fans to keep the volume down, which could raise concerns among England fans who face being silenced after shelling out for a trip to see international football’s most prestigious tournament.
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Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and action was threatened against captains who planned to wear the ‘OneLove’ armband at the tournament – a protest aimed at promoting LGBTQ+ rights. Harry Kane was among them and, under the threat of an immediate yellow card, he reverted to wearing an armband sporting the words of FIFA’s own campaign instead.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino was forced to adress these contentious issues in a bizarre pre-tournament press conference, during which he claimed to feel ‘gay, disabled and a migrant worker’. “Of course I am not Qatari, I am not an Arab, I am not African, I am not gay, I am not disabled,” he continued.
“But I feel like it, because I know what it means to be discriminated [against], to be bullied, as a foreigner in a foreign country. As a child I was bullied – because I had red hair and freckles, plus I was Italian, so imagine.
“I can confirm that everyone is welcome [in Qatar]. If you have a person here and there who says the opposite, it’s not the opinion of the country, it’s certainly not the opinion of FIFA. You want to stay at home and say how bad they are, these Arabs, these Muslims, because it’s not allowed to be publicly gay. I believe it should be allowed. But it is a process. If someone thinks that hammering and criticising will achieve something, well I can tell you it will be exactly the opposite. It will close more doors.”