According to the director of UK football policing, it is still unknown how exactly Qatar’s police force would approach visitors during the World Cup, and whether or not supporters will be criminalized for raising rainbow flags in the country.
Chief Constable Mark Roberts stated in an interview with Sky Sports News that despite multiple high-level talks with tournament organizers and Qatari police, UK officials are still uncertain about how Qatar’s stringent rules would be enforced on the streets of Doha.
According to Roberts, “Until we are actually there and the tournament is in full swing, we do not know exactly what the tolerances are.” This statement was made before they traveled to their destination.
“Our officers will be there to engage with the community, chat with the local law enforcement about what they deem to be acceptable, and relay this information to supporters. To pass judgment is not our purpose here.”
It comes at a time when supporter groups have criticized the confusing messages being sent to England and Wales fans that are intending on going to the Middle East in the coming few weeks.
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Alicia Kearns, who chairs the select committee for foreign affairs, suggested over the weekend that supporters should bring “burner phones” with them to use in Qatar in order to prevent spyware from monitoring their private chats.
On the other hand, David Clay, who is the joint head of the Arabian Peninsula Department for the British Foreign Office, stated on Tuesday that “we are aware of those comments, but at the moment that is not part of our guidance to tourists and fans.”
Although public displays of affection between same-sex and straight couples are prohibited in Qatar, LGBTQ+ couples are expected to be accepted, according to Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ansari, who is in charge of the tournament’s security.
On the other hand, he also mentioned that fans’ rainbow flags might be confiscated “to protect them” from any potential violence by locals.
Equality activists have pointed out that Qatari citizens who identify as LGBTQ+ will continue to face discrimination even after the World Cup has over, regardless of the attitude that Qatar’s authorities take during the month that the tournament is taking place.
“From my conversations with the Qatari officials, I can state with absolute certainty that they want this to be successful,” Roberts continued. “They have high hopes that it will be successful. We are aware that there are a variety of points of view and components of culture, which is why we want to collaborate with the Qataris to ensure a very secure operation.”
Today, the Football Supporters Association confirmed to Sky Sports News that no LGBTQ+ supporters from England or Wales are currently planning to travel to the World Cup. Three Lions Pride and the Rainbow Wall are two organizations that were established by LGBTQ+ supporters for England and Wales.
CC Roberts expresses regret that all of the people who support the team do not believe they are able to attend and enjoy a tournament. “However, that is a deliberative choice that people make for themselves based on the knowledge they possess.
“What we have to make sure of is that, for those supporters from England and Wales who do come out there, we are there to support and advise, and look after British nationals,” We are not anticipating any issues, but supporters need to be aware that if they behave inappropriately, they will be subject to consequences.
This is the first time that the World Cup has been played in a country that is predominantly Muslim, the first time that it has been played in the Middle East, and the first time that it has been played in Doha and the surrounding areas.
As a result of these variables, Chief Constable Roberts will be responsible for supervising the largest ever deployment of police personnel from the United Kingdom for a major football tournament. To assist in providing specific information to supporters of England and Wales who are likely to be unfamiliar with the local culture and legislation, fifteen dedicated officers will make their maiden voyage to Qatar.
“Every tournament teaches us something new,” he explains. “We are just mindful that this time around there will be those cultural differences, and because of that, we wanted to send folks that are totally focused on fan engagement, focused on that dialogue, just to exhort supporters since it will be a different setting,”
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