England fans face stadium ban over crusader costumes in Qatar

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England fans will be barred from Friday’ match in Qatar against the United States and future World Cup games if they wear crusader replica costumes which are considered culturally insensitive in a Muslim country, FIFA has said.

England supporters have used imitation chain-mail armor, plastic helmets and toy weapons as a fancy dress for games for years.

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But images of some fans dressed as crusaders at Monday’s 6-2 win over Iran in the Qatari capital Doha were criticized online, prompting the sport’s world governing body to crack down on the costumes.

“These costumes in an Arab or Middle Eastern context can be perceived as being offensive so that’s the reason for them not being permitted in stadiums,” a FIFA spokesperson said.

For many Arabs, the word crusade summons up a painful history of violent invasion by Christians seeking to capture Jerusalem and nearby areas under Islamic rule in the 11th to 13th centuries.

Issues around culture and rights have been in focus almost as much the soccer at the World Cup in Qatar.

Some Wales fans were ordered to remove hats with the rainbow colors of the LGBT community at their team’s first match of the tournament against the United States earlier this week.

Welsh football authorities said on Thursday that FIFA had confirmed that supporters with rainbow-colored hats and flags would be allowed entry to the stadium for Wales’ match against Iran on Friday, which Wales lost 2-0.

The captains of England, Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark this week dropped their plans to wear armbands to back gay rights under pressure from FIFA.

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