QATAR has banned England fans dressed as Saint George from World Cup stadiums – citing fears over “weapons and armour”.
Footage of Three Lions supporters appearing to be turned away from a stadium earlier this week has been widely shared online.
Fans traditionally don the costumes which pay homage to England’s patron saint, the Christian knight Saint George.
But others have criticised the supporters for dressing as “crusaders” which could be considered offensive in the Middle East.
Qatari authorities confirmed to The Sun Online anything considered as “weapons and body protection” is banned when asked about the knightly costumes.
And they also pointed us to their stadium code of conduct, which bans any items that are deemed “political, offensive and or/discriminatory in nature”.
Helmets are also strictly banned from the stadiums, and weapons are defined as “any object which could […] endanger the safety of others.
England World Cup fans had already been warned by campaign groups that dressing as the knights could be considered offensive.
Crusading warriors – often baring the red and white heraldry of the Knights Templar – attempted to seize control of Jerusalem during the Middle Ages.
Anti-racism campaign group Kick It Out today also warned fans that the costumes “may not be welcome”.
“We would advise fans who are attending FIFA World Cup matches that certain attire, such as fancy-dress costumes representing knights or crusaders,” a spokesman 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.”
Video showing men in chainmail while carrying swords and shields being turned away from a stadium has been widely shared on social media.
The two men – understood to be England fans – are speaking to group of four Qatari security officials.
They appear to point the two men away from the turnstiles and send them on their way.
Other footage has also seen England fans dressed as knights getting into the swing of things in Qatar.
Iman Atta, director of Tell Mama, a UK project monitoring Islamophobic hate, told The Telegraph: “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.
“We also know that this is not done to purposefully irritate Qataris but out of a desire to support England.
“However, we firmly believe in the principle that any World Cup should have an environment where fans can be open, enjoy what they want to wear and feel safe and secure.
“This principle is one that we believe in – though in Qatar, people should just be mindful and aware of deep sensitivities.”
Ashley Brown, head of supporter engagement at the Football Supporters Association, said he believed the supporters had simply been “naive”.
“I think it’s naivety rather than anything intentional. They’re dressing as St George, the patron saint, but perhaps they don’t really understand the implication of what they’re wearing,” he explained.
Fan trouble has been limited at the Qatar World Cup – with most supporters at the games seeming to be in good spirits despite limited access to booze.
But the tournament has been blighted with some problems with infrastructure, including Qatari authorities offering refunds to punters staying in rubbish, unfinished cabin villages.
England also helped keep fans bouncing as they thumped Iran 6-2 to open their campaign.
The Three Lions tomorrow night will face the US, before a hotly anticipated clash with Wales on Tuesday.
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