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World Cup 2022: Former Wales player Laura McAllister told to remove rainbow hat

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Former Wales player Laura McAllister was among the fans refused entry to a 2022 World Cup stadium for wearing a rainbow bucket hat.

McAllister, who earned 24 caps for Wales during her playing career, was attempting to enter the Al-Rayyan Stadium to watch her country take on the United States.

She was confronted by security and told to take off her rainbow hat, which was designed by LGBT+ football organisation The Rainbow Wall to promote inclusion and equality in the sport.

McAllister still smuggled the hat in, before giving an interview to ITV News about her experience.

“I pointed out that FIFA had made lots of comments about supporting LGBT rights in this tournament,” she said.

“I said to them that coming from a nation where we’re very passionate about equality for all people, I wasn’t going to take my hat off. They were insistent that unless I took the hat off we weren’t actually allowed to come into the stadium.”

McAllister added: “I think we’ve had plenty of warning that this wasn’t going to be a tournament where human rights, LGBT rights and women’s rights were going to be well respected.

“But coming from a nation like Wales, we were very keen that we still took a stand coming here.

“It’s really important that we stick to our values, that we don’t bend. There’s not much point in having principles if you’re prepared to give them up the minute somebody challenges you”.

Video: Watch Laura McAllister refused entry to Al-Rayyan Stadium

Are rainbow hats banned from the 2022 World Cup?

McAllister told ITV News that security guards claimed her hat was “a banned symbol”.

The Rainbow Wall confirmed they had heard multiple reports of fans in Qatar being denied entry to the match while wearing the same bucket hats.

In addition, American sports journalist Grant Wahl claimed he was detained for nearly half an hour after trying to enter the Al-Rayyan Stadium with a rainbow t-shirt on, while a number of football associations scrapped plans to wear a rainbow armband after pressure from FIFA.

Last month, Qatar’s World Cup head Hassan Al-Thawadi told Sky News that rainbow flags would be allowed at the tournament, but this no longer seems to be the case.

The host nation has been heavily scrutinised for its treatment of LGBTQ+ citizens, who can face imprisonment or the death penalty, and World Cup organisers are currently doing little to assuage these concerns.

Who is Laura McAllister?

McAllister, who is part of the LGBTQ+ community, played for Wales between 1994 and 1998.

She is now a senior sports administrator, and has been the deputy chair of UEFA’s women’s football committee since 2017. She previously held roles with Sport Wales and UK Sport, and stood to become UEFA’s female representative on the FIFA Council in 2020.

McAllister is also currently Professor of Public Policy and the Governance of Wales at Cardiff University.

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