Qatari authorities seized the flag of two Brazilian soccer fans after mistaking it for LGBTQ+ colors.
The shocking incident took place outside the Lusail Stadium on Tuesday as fans left the grounds following Saudi Arabia’s shock victory over Argentina.
Video footage shows the women being approached by Brazilian journalist Victor Pereira, who asked for a photo with the flag.
The colorful flag was that of the northeastern state of Pernambuco, which the journalist recognized from the ground.
Pereira asked another person to take the photo and paused to look at the photo when a man in a traditional white dress approached the group and harassed them about the flag.
The person picked up the flag, threw it to the ground and then stepped over it.
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and is punishable by imprisonment.
Pereira told Reuters, “I took my phone to make a video, but he took it out of my hand and said he would only give it back if I delete the video.”
“Then an agent came and tried to intervene. He took the other man’s phone and ordered me to delete the video.
Pereira said he agreed to make sure he gets his phone back if he uses it for work. His case made headlines after he uploaded a new video to Twitter explaining what happened.
Volunteers working outside the stadium apologized to him.
He said: “They said they had no right to do that and if I wanted to I could press charges.”
Pereira added that nearby surveillance cameras captured the incident and he plans to press charges.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the organizer of the World Cup in Qatar, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did the media office of the government of Qatar.
The governor of Pernambuco, Paulo Camara, expressed his solidarity with Pereira on Twitter.
He said: “Our solidarity with the Pernambuco journalist Victor Pereira. Victor reported on the Qatar Cup and had the Pernambuco flag he was carrying confiscated by the authorities of that country.’
The state flag was first introduced in 1817 when it gained independence from Portugal.
At the time, the flag was divided with a blue pennant representing the sky and a white pennant representing a country that believed in peace.
Three white stars were placed slightly above the rainbow and the sun directly below symbolized strength and energy.
Consisting of three arcs of red, yellow and white, the rainbow symbolized peace, friendship and unity.
The current flag was adopted in 1917 and the arcs were changed to red, yellow and white, representing unity across the state.
A lone gold star replaced the three that already existed and represented the state in the Brazilian federation as a whole.
The flag has always had a red cross, which symbolizes the state’s belief in justice and understanding.
It comes after a US journalist said he was briefly arrested Monday trying to enter a World Cup stadium in Qatar while wearing a rainbow shirt in support of the LGBTQ community, and claimed his phone had been confiscated.
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