The World Cup has been the center of all sorts of political drama ranging from Qatar’s treatment of the LGBTQ+ community to protests around Iranian treatment of women. The most significant protest to date has been the Iranian team choosing not to sing their own National Anthem and the German team covering their mouths in a team photo as a protest.
On Monday, we got our first fan protest of note. A fan ran on the field during the second half of the Portugal-Uruguay match with a rainbow flag and wearing a t-shirt that said “Save Ukraine” on the front and “Respect for Iranian Woman” on the back. Below is video and some additional photos.
This follows multiple incidents raising questions around what kind of punishment this fan might face. Reporter Grant Wahl reported that he was detained for wearing a t-shirt that had a rainbow on it. This came after FIFA did an about-face on a policy related to a specific LGBTQ+ protest at the World Cup. Several European teams were going to wear arm bands that said OneLove, but after initially allowing it, FIFA rescinded that authorization and threatened yellow cards to any players who wore the arm band.
This was followed by a report that FIFA told Belgium they could not include the word “Love” in the collar of their jerseys.
The USA-Iran match on Tuesday is already facing an increasing temperature amidst geopolitical issues. The two nations have been firmly at odds since the 70s and have had historic issues dating back more than 80 years. It’s led to a wild week of issues including social media decisions and press conference questions of the American squad focusing on the political aspects of the match.