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Protester with rainbow flag interrupts Portugal-Uruguay World Cup match

A pitch invader runs across the field with a rainbow flag
AP Photo/Abbie Parr
A pitch invader runs across the field with a rainbow flag during the World Cup group H soccer match between Portugal and Uruguay, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022.

A group-stage match between Portugal and Uruguay was briefly interrupted Monday by a demonstrator with a rainbow flag at the World Cup, presumably a reference to host nation Qatar’s poor record on LGBTQ rights.

According to a CNN report, during the second half of the Group H contest, the protester was seen running onto the pitch waving a rainbow flag and wearing a blue T-shirt with a Superman logo and the words “Respect for Iranian women” and “Save Ukraine” on it.

The broadcast’s feed for the contest avoided showing the protester, though security officials were seen pursuing the individual and a FIFA referee was seen picking up the rainbow flag off the turf. 

Speaking after the game, Portuguese national team midfielder Ruben Neves said that protester interruptions have been a common occurrence in soccer matches, adding that he hopes the protester doesn’t get into too much trouble, ESPN reported.

Portugal defeated Uruguay 2 to 0 on Monday to advance to the tournament’s knockout stage. 

“We know what has happened around this World Cup. It’s a normal thing to happen. Of course, we are all with them as well. Iran as well, because I saw his shirt,” Neves said. “I hope nothing happens to the boy because we understand his message and I think all the world understood it as well.” 

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been marred with controversies since the global sporting tournament kicked off last week. 

FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, threatened to impose sanctions on Germany and six other European nations if their players wore rainbow-printed armbands in support of LGBTQ rights, aligning with federation rules that state participating players are required to wear what is authorized to them as part of their teams’ uniform sets. Players who break these rules will receive yellow cards from officials.

Qatar has faced regular human rights criticism and condemnation for outlawing homosexuality among its residents.

The Hill has reached out to FIFA for comment.

Tags 2022 World Cup FIFA Iran protests LGBTQ rights Qatar Russia-Ukraine conflict
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