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29th Nov 2022

World Cup protester releases defiant statement after pitch invasion

Simon Lloyd

‘Breaking the rules if done for a good cause is NEVER A CRIME…’

The man responsible for invading the pitch with a rainbow flag during Portugal’s World Cup game with Uruguay in Qatar on Monday has released a statement, saying ‘breaking rules for a good cause is never a crime’.

Mario Ferri, an Italian, was quickly identified as the man behind the stunt by media in his home country.

During the second half he was briefly caught on camera as he ran on to the field holding aloft the rainbow flag. He also wore a t-shirt, carrying messages in support of Ukraine and women in Iran.

Ferri, who carried out a similar stunt to highlight child poverty during the Brazil World Cup of 2014, released a post on his Instagram page on Tuesday explaining the motivation behind his actions.

‘I’M BACK,’ he began.  ‘I’ll call it “THE LAST DANCE” my last run in a playing field.

‘I wanted to send some IMPORTANT messages to me that I’ve lived on my skin in the past months…

‘1) A message for Iran where I have friends who are suffering, where women are not respected… THE WORLD MUST CHANGE, we can do it together with STRONG gestures, that come from the heart, WITH COURAGE.

‘2) FIFA banned rainbow captains bands and human rights flags on the stands, they blocked everyone, BUT NOT ME, like a Robinhood 2.0 I brought the message of the PEOPLE. We want a free world that laughs fucks all races and all the ideas.

‘3) SAVE THE UKRAINE. I spent a month at the war in Kiev as a volunteer and saw how much that people were suffering. WE WANT PEACE UK️ IN UKRAINE, GLORY TO UKRAINE.’

Finally, he added: ‘Thank you for all the messages of love that I receive from the world, from Iran and Ukraine.

‘Breaking the rules if done for a good cause is NEVER A CRIME.’

Ferri was escorted from the pitch by security personnel and The Guardian has since reported that Qatari authorities have banned him from attending any further World Cup games at the tournament following the Monday’s events.

His Hayya card, which serves as a permit for international supporters to enter the Gulf state and allows them to attend games and travel on the metro, has been confiscated.

“Following the pitch invasion that took place during last night’s Portugal v Uruguay match, we can confirm that the individual involved was released shortly after being removed from the pitch,” a Supreme Committee spokesperson told the Guardian.

“His embassy has been informed. As a consequence of his actions, and as is standard practice, his Hayya card has been cancelled and he has been banned from attending future matches at this tournament.”

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