England fans have claimed they were stripped naked and humiliated by stadium security staff after dressing as crusaders at a World Cup game.
The expat pair – who have asked not to be named fearing reprisals from Qatar’s hard line Islamic regime – said they were turned away five times for wearing the “offensive” fancy dress, The Sun reports.
They missed the first half of the Three Lions’ opening game against Iran after being challenged by a guard who tugged at the outfits and asked: “Are you here to kill Muslims?”
Both fans – a 56-year-old builder and a 57-year-old engineer – have worked on World Cup infrastructure projects and stadia in Qatar for 10 years.
They eventually complied with requests to surrender their garb comprising chain mail, helmets and rubber swords.
But when they attempted to enter to watch the second half wearing T-shirts and shorts they were ushered to a side room and ordered to strip.
The engineer said: “We are both huge fans of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and had our costumes handmade in India – they’re brilliant and cost A$5,365 each.
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“We thought it would be a laugh to dress up for the game in keeping with the tradition we’ve seen at virtually every previous World Cup.
“But the staff at the security checkpoints first denied us entry because of our helmets, then they said the shields and rubber swords were a problem, then the tunics were offensive.
“We ended up going back and forth five or six times to various checkpoints – all the time complying with their requests.
“This went on for two-and-a-half hours and led to us missing the first half so we decided to ditch all the gear as we’d paid more than A$321 for our tickets.
“But as we tried to get in we were taken into a small side room by three staff and told to strip naked.
“There was no reason for it – they didn’t even search us – and it was just ritual humiliation. Absolutely appalling treatment.”
Video circulated on social media showed four officers at a security cordon escorting the pair away before England’s 6-2 triumph over Iran at Doha’s Al Khalil Stadium.
England fans have supported the team dressed as crusader knight St George – the nation’s patron saint – at every previous World Cup.
But FIFA officials warned it was unwise to don the costumes in Qatar in light of the Islamic nation’s history.
The best-known Crusades took place between 1095 and 1291 when Christian armies fought bloody battles to seize Jerusalem and the surrounding area from Islamic rule.
Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out has also warned fancy dress “knights or crusaders” may not be a laughing matter at this World Cup.
The builder – who has worked on some of the eight stadia built during Qatar’s A$330 billion World Cup spending spree – said: “I have many Muslim friends and colleagues here and I was horrified by their conduct.
“We came in fancy dress like many England fans have in the past but these people did not see the funny side at all – they were very nasty.
“At one point one of them tugged at my chain mail and asked me: ‘Have you come here to kill Muslims?’
“I told him: ‘I’ve come here to have fun and watch the football mate. What are you talking about?’
“We were cross about missing the first half by the time we tried to enter wearing ordinary clothes but were both shocked when they ordered a strip search.
“Three security staff in a very small room stood around us pointing and sneering. It was awful.”
The engineer said: “I have quite a few tattoos and they spent a lot of time studying them and mocking me.
“We weren’t given intimate searches – they just wanted to demean us and teach us a lesson.
“I couldn’t believe what was happening and when I got down to my underpants I asked: ‘Do you really want to see my penis?’ One of them replied: ‘Yes. Take them off.’
The two Brits said they had not made any complaints to authorities about the incident.
The builder said: “Where is the point in this place? If I complained to the police I’d lose my job and get deported immediately – that’s the reality of life here.
“Everything has been scrubbed clean and whitewashed for the World Cup but everyone here lives in a climate of fear.”
The pair donned their crusader gear to cheer with England fans at Doha’s Red Lion pub during yesterday’s Wales v Iran game but changed into T-shirts and jeans for yesterday’s game.
The engineer said: “We’re taking no chances this time – we don’t want to go through that again.”
FIFA said: “We can provide some clarity on FIFA’s position through our response to you, based on our discussions with the relevant units within FIFA.
“FIFA strives to create a discrimination-free environment, to promote diversity across the organisation and in all of its activities and events in accordance with the FIFA Statutes, FIFA’s Human Rights Policy and several other FIFA regulations and codes.
“Crusader costumes in the Arab context can be offensive against Muslims. That is why Anti-Discrimination colleagues asked fans to wear things inside out or change dress.”
– This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission.
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Originally published as England fans wearing crusader outfits stripsearched by World Cup security