England fans dressed as Crusaders have been banned from World Cup matches in Qatar because their costumes are deemed ‘offensive to Muslims’.
Two knights in costume were reportedly seen on social media trying to get through security for England’s match against Iran on Monday, wearing chainmail and carrying helmets emblazoned with the St. George’s Cross.
It is alleged that the pair, also carrying new swords, were led away from the security gate by four officers before kick-off.
And a similar experience could be in store for those attending tonight’s game against the US, with the Times reporting that Three Lions fans are not allowed to dress like the Christian invaders.
It’s because England fans, who have long supported the team that donned the attire of St. George – the country’s patron saint – at previous World Cups, will be in trouble by doing so this time.
FIFA and anti-racism groups say dressing up as crusaders in an Arab country like Qatar could be considered offensive given the historical context.
Some residents of Doha seem to have been upset by the choice of dress, as the religious wars between 1095 and 1291 were about taking land and holy sites under Muslim control.
England fans dressed as crusaders with chain mail, shields and swords are stopped by security outside a stadium in Qatar
An English fan dressed as a crusader kneels at a security checkpoint at the World Cup in Qatar
Prince William tells the England team to avoid social media
Sam Greenhill, chief reporter in Doha
England coach Gareth Southgate revealed Prince William’s advice to the side last night: avoid social media.
He said the heir to the throne gave valuable tips when they met before flying to Qatar.
Southgate said the team followed his advice to focus on matches rather than headlines and social media distractions.
He said: ‘We really like our base camp – we don’t have any televisions on except for games.
“Of course I’m sure the guys follow things on social media and the internet, but we’ve talked about the importance of ignoring those things from time to time.
“We even had the future king come over and talk to the boys, which was a point we couldn’t have paid him better to say, about social media handling.”
Southgate saluted his side ahead of today’s England vs. USA clash, adding: “These players are putting our country on the map – they are regaining our respectability on the world stage and we must continue to do so.”
One of the crusaders spoke to TalkTV after England’s 6-2 win over Iran on Monday.
The man, who was not named, said: “The problem is in places like Qatar, the fans are the essence of the game. We make the game.
“It’s not the corporates, they help financially in the background, we, the fans, make the football and we are the football.”
He said they stayed in the fan park and paid £250 a night.
FIFA said: ‘Crusader costumes in the Arab context can be offensive to Muslims. That’s why anti-discrimination colleagues asked fans to wear or change things inside out.’
Kick It Out, the campaign group against racism in football, said: ‘Certain clothing, such as fancy dress costumes representing knights or crusaders, may not be welcome in Qatar.
Researcher Robert Carter tweeted: “The clothing, complete with swords and crosses, is offensive because of the Crusader history of rape, slaughter and occupation of Arab lands.”
But some England fans in Qatar pointed out that a cheering Saudi Arabian fan was apparently allowed to brandish a real three-foot scimitar among the crowds outside the stadium after his team’s shock victory over Argentina.
The most famous crusades took place between 1096 and 1291 when Christian armies fought to conquer Jerusalem and the surrounding area from Muslim rule.
Footage from Qatar before and after the match in England showed one group dressed as knights singing God Save the King and charging up the steps on public transport. Some locals seemed shocked by their choice of clothing – others asked them to pose for selfies.
Meanwhile, bars in Doha are requiring fans wearing traditional Arab robes and headgear to remove them for fear it will offend locals and offend Islam.
The clothing has become popular among fans and is widely sold in the team colors of the 32 nations playing at the tournament.
The latest incident follows days of mounting criticism of Qatari police’s violent treatment of fans as the row over LGBT symbols continues in the Gulf state.
Qatari officials have repeatedly stated that “everyone is welcome” at the World Cup, despite the fact that same-sex relationships remain illegal in the country.
England and other teams who intended to wear the ‘OneLove’ armbands to make a statement against discrimination at the World Cup in Qatar were also said to have been ‘blackmailed’ with the imminent threat of ‘massive sporting sanctions’.
Fans and journalists from multiple countries have reported that rainbow-themed items, including t-shirts, bucket hats and flags, have been seized by officials.
Despite FIFA’s insistence that “everyone is welcome” in the Gulf state, fans, journalists and LGBT groups have all faced an authoritarian crackdown that saw rainbow clothing confiscated from stadiums.
Beer sales were also banned in stadiums in a stunning 11th hour roundup by Qatari officials – sending many fans outraged and sending FIFA into the red.
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, demanded that all visitors “respect our culture” and that fans are expected to comply with the rules and cultural practices of the Gulf state.
WHAT WERE THE CROSSADES?
The Crusades were a series of religious wars between 1095 and 1291 in which Christian invaders attempted to claim the Near East.
It is known that the nobility led the Crusades, but historical records lack details about the common soldiers who traveled to the Near East, lived and died.
Pope Urban II started the First Crusade (1096–1102) to help the Christian Byzantine Empire, which was under attack from Muslim Seljuk Turks.
As a result, Europeans conquered Jerusalem in 1099 and Muslims quickly united against the Christian invasion.
By 1291, Muslims had firm control of Jerusalem and it remained in Muslim hands until the twentieth century.
The Crusades set the stage for several religious knightly military orders, including the Knights Templar, the Teutonic Knights, and the Knights Hospitaller.
These groups defended the Holy Land and protected pilgrims traveling to and from the region.
The Crusades were a series of religious wars between 1095 and 1291 in which Christian invaders attempted to claim the Near East. It is known that the nobility led the crusades, but historical records lack details of the common soldiers (file photo)