England fans have been asked not to dress up in crusader costumes in order to avoid upsetting Muslims at the World Cup in Qatar after a couple of supporters were seemingly led away by security this week. Supporters often attend England matches dressed as St George, the patron saint usually depicted as a knight on horseback, although footage shared on Twitter appeared to show two England fans wearing chain mail and helmets being turned around by officials prior to Monday’s victory over Iran.
Crusader costumes run the risk of offending the locals in Qatar, with the best-known Crusades taking place between 1095 and 1291 when Christian armies fought to seize Jerusalem and the surrounding area from Islamic rule. A spokesperson for anti-racism group Kick It Out has warned England fans against wearing the costumes to matches at the World Cup by insisting that they may not be taken kindly to by officials at stadiums in Qatar if they decide to dress up in such a manner.
“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,” said the spokesperson. “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.”
Several England fans have been spotted in knight costumes during the early stages of the World Cup in Qatar, with the strict laws and customs in the country having raised questions over whether supporters should be mindful of upsetting locals by dressing as crusaders at Three Lions matches. Iman Atta, director of Tell Mama, a UK project monitoring Islamophobic hate, has also urged those following England at the World Cup to avoid dressing insensitively in spite of the fact that such costumes are not worn with the intention of antagonising Qatari locals.
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“Our fans should be mindful that there are things that may cause offence to Qatari citizens, such as openly drinking or wearing historical Crusader Knights Templar outfits that have very negative implications in the region,” Atta told The Telegraph. “We also know that this is not done to purposefully irritate Qataris but out of a desire to support England.
“However, we firmly believe in the principle that any World Cup should have an environment where fans can be open, enjoy what they want to wear and feel safe and secure. This principle is one that we believe in, though in Qatar, people should just be mindful and aware of deep sensitivities.”
Meanwhile, Football Supporters’ Association chief Ashley Brown has insisted that those fans who have been turned away for dressing as crusaders would not have been intentionally trying to offend Muslims in Qatar but should be mindful of what such costumes may imply.
“I think it’s naivety rather than anything intentional,” he explained. “They’re dressing as St George, the patron saint, but perhaps they don’t really understand the implication of what they’re wearing.”
The UK government warned England fans against inadvertently offending the locals in Qatar prior to the start of the World Cup, which is being held in the Middle East for the very first time. Gareth Southgate’s side will be hoping to maintain their strong start to the tournament in their next outing against the USA, with the match in Group B set to take place at the Al Bayt Stadium on Friday.
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