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26th Nov 2022

England fans ‘made to strip naked’ after dressing as Crusaders in Qatar

Steve Hopkins

‘They just wanted to humiliate us’

Two England fans who turned up at England’s opening World Cup match against Iran dressed as Crusaders claim security officers stripped them naked as a “ritual humiliation”.

The Three Lions supporters, whose costumes were inspired by Monty Python, claim the “bullying and vindictive” staff asked “Are you here to kill Muslims?” before seizing their novelty swords and armour on Monday as England secured a 6-2 win.

The pair told The Times they were forced to take off the rest of their clothes and stand naked before being allowed into the Al Bayt Stadium to watch the game.

Read also: England fans in crusader costumes banned from entering Qatar stadiums

“There were three police officers standing there giggling. They just wanted to humiliate us,” one of the fans, a 56-year-old construction worker who has not been named, is quoted as saying.

The second, an engineer aged 57, added: “We are both huge fans of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and had our costumes hand-made in India.

“They’re brilliant and cost £3,000 each. We thought it would be a laugh to dress up for the game in keeping with the tradition we’ve seen at virtually every previous World Cup.”

His friend added that the pair had photos taken “with so many people outside the stadium: Qatari guys, Iranian guys, people wearing Islamic clothing”.

“Everyone was laughing and having fun. They thought it was great. No one complained.”

Fifa, who are under fire over policing LGBTQ+-aligned items, banned supporters from dressing as Christian invaders for Friday’s clash against the USA, which was a draw.

Fifa said the outfits were inappropriate in Qatar, the first Islamic country to host the tournament.

The Times quoted the governing body as saying, “Crusader costumers in the Arab context can be offensive against Muslims.”

Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out also advised fans against wearing fancy-dress costumes representing knights or crusaders, which recall the religious wars Christians waged against Muslims during the Middle Ages.

A spokeswoman for the group said: “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.”

UK Charity, Tell Mama, has also spoken out about the controversy, saying that any “World Cup should have an environment where fans can be open, enjoy what they want to wear and feel safe and secure.”

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