San Diego Loyal midfielder Collin Martin has taken aim at World Cup organisers in Qatar by expressing his opposition to fans being stopped from bringing rainbow flags and hats into stadiums. A number of supporters have been forced to remove their pro-LGBT+ attire in order to gain access to their seats, with former Wales captain Laura McAllister being asked to take off her rainbow-coloured bucket hat before the country’s group stage match against the USA.
American journalist Grant Wahl also claimed that he was told to remove his rainbow-coloured T-shirt at the same fixture, while other fans have been confronted by security workers for attempting to bring pride flags into stadiums over the course of the tournament. Martin, who came out as gay four years ago, has since insisted that FIFA should not have awarded the World Cup to Qatar if supporters are not allowed to wave rainbow flags and sport rainbow-coloured items of clothing at matches.
“I think it’s a shame that FIFA didn’t award a more progressive country to host the World Cup,” Martin exclusively told Express Sport.
“It was concerning they gave Qatar the World Cup in the first place. What’s more concerning is that they aren’t willing to be part of the conversation in trying to make progress in Qatar for LGBTQ+ people and to create a safe space for them to show up at games.
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“The fact that you can’t bring a rainbow flag is crazy to me. At the very least fans should be able to wear a shirt that supports the LGBTQ+ community, I don’t know how FIFA isn’t allowing that.
“That’s my concern and where I’ve been really disappointed with the World Cup in general. They haven’t been willing to have healthy conversations at all and to address the fact that this is an issue in world sport, homophobia.
“If you’re going to award [the World Cup to] a country that openly discriminates against gay people, then try to be a part of bridging the gap and trying to help the people in that country who are dealing with this type of discrimination, and hold Qatar accountable for trying to be a part of progressing their ideas on what that might look like for someone that’s gay in their country.
“It’s been disappointing, but I think we’ve seen that people have been talking about it and that’s important. Hopefully Qatar and the people there have seen that the gay fans who have showed up have meant no harm, but have just wanted to support their country and their teams and just be seen for the full humans they are.”
Collin Martin, San Diego Loyal soccer player, who came out as gay in 2018, has partnered with BonusFinder and LGBT HERO to understand representation and attitudes towards the LGBTQIA+ community in US professional team sports.