Posted 11/23/2020 4:31 PM / Updated 11/23/2022 4:31 PM
What was supposed to be a celebration turned into a nightmare for a group of Brazilians who were at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday (22), as Saudi Arabia’s epic 2-1 victory over Argentina in the World Cup in Qatar took place.
After the match, three friends of Pernambuco were approached and embarrassed by men who identified themselves as police officers. Reason: They were going to display the flag of the LGBTQIA+ movement when in reality it was the flag of the state of Pernambuco, which features a rainbow.
Band in Recife reporter Kelvin Maciel, 28, was the one to carry his state’s flag in his backpack and tell us how the party atmosphere he and his friends were in gave way to indignation.
“I had arranged with our friend, Eduarda, who is working at the event as a FIFA volunteer, that when we met, we would all take a picture with the flag of our state. After that, I went to take the picture alone, by the side of the field.”
This is where the problems started. “When we looked back, a Qatari boy in traditional white clothes with his badge hidden in his pocket was screaming and quarreling, took the flag from her hands, threw it on the ground and started stomping on it,” Maciel said.
He added that the group began searching the internet for pictures of Pernambuco and the country’s flag to show the man, but he remained adamant. His friend, journalist Victor Pereira, who works for Folha de Pernambuco, took his cell phone and started filming.
Tensions then increased as other security guards arrived, forming a circle around the Brazilians.
Force delete the video
Excited, the man left the flag and headed towards Pereira. “Speaking in English, he threatened to throw his cell phone to the ground and order the video to be taken down. I showed my credentials and said I was authorized to register.”
At that moment, another security guard intervened and ordered the video to be taken down. “I tried to catch [o aparelho] from that man’s hand. He raised his voice and told me not to touch him. After that, he was able to delete the video even from the trash, and unlock the cell phone by facial recognition.
Victor Pereira said he and his friends sought officials from the organization and FIFA to report the truth and received an apology. But he found it insufficient, considering the amount of embarrassment they had suffered.
“They need to publicly apologize and identify these people so that they can be punished in some way. Even with the people of Pernambuco. I am a journalist. We were called here to cover freely, but our rights were restricted,” he said.
“Even if it’s an LGBT flag,” Pereira added, showing the flag of Pernambuco, still with marks from the soles of her shoes.
The organizing committee did not respond to an AFP request for comment. When asked about LGBT rights, organizing committee leaders have repeatedly said that “everyone is welcome” at the World Cup. Prior to the tournament, FIFA said it would allow “rainbow” flags and symbols in and around stadiums.
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