If you’ve ever tuned in to watch an England soccer match, odds are you’ve seen at least one English supporter in the stands dressed up as crusader icon St. George. That won’t be the case in Qatar for the World Cup, at least not if England fans listen to a warning sent out by an activist group.
Two fans dressed in crusader garb attempted to attend England’s World Cup opener against Iran but were led away by Qatari officials. It’s unknown whether the fans were actually detained, or simply asked to leave due to their get-up.
After the video of the two fans being escorted away made the rounds on social media, an activist group campaigning against racism and discrimination in soccer sent a warning to all England fans.
“We would advise fans attending FIFA World Cup matches that certain attire, such as fancy-dress costumes representing knights or crusaders, may not be welcomed in Qatar and other Islamic countries,” activist group Kick It Out said.
“Foreign Office travel advice issued before the tournament expressed that fans should familiarise themselves with local customs, and we would encourage fans to take this approach.”
The crusader outfits worn by fans resembling St. George typically include chain mail and even a fake shield and sword. The crusades occurred between 1025 and 1291 when Christian armies fought to free Jerusalem from Islamic control.
Tell Mama, a UK-based group fighting anti-Muslim hate also took a shot at England fans wearing the garb in Qatar.
“Our fans should be mindful that there are things that may cause offence to Qatari citizens, such as openly drinking or wearing historical Crusader Knights Templar outfits that have very negative implications in the region,” the director of the group stated.
England won its opening match in Qatar over Iran and will take on the United States on Friday afternoon in a highly-anticipated matchup.