England fans dressed as Crusaders have been turned away from World Cup matches in Qatar as their costumes are ‘offensive to Muslims’.
Two fancy-dress knights were allegedly seen on social media trying to get through security before England’s match with Iran on Monday. They were wearing chainmail and helmets bearing St George’s Cross.
It is claimed that the pair, who were also carrying novelty swords, were escorted away by four officers at the security gate before kick-off.
And a similar experience could be in store for those attending tonight’s match against the USA, with the Times reporting Three Lions fans have been banned from dressing as the Christian invaders.
It comes as England supporters, who have long cheered on their team while bearing the garb of St George – the nation’s patron saint – at previous World Cups, find themselves in trouble for doing so this time around.
FIFA and anti-racism groups say dressing up as Crusaders in an Arab country such as Qatar could be seen as offensive given the historical context.
Some Doha residents appear to have been upset by the choice of outfit, given the religious wars between 1095 and 1291 when Christian armies fought to seize land and holy sites under Islamic control.
One of the crusaders spoke to TalkTV after England’s 6-2 win over Iran on Monday.
The man, who was not named, said: ‘The problem is in places like Qatar, the fans are the essence of the game. We are what makes the game.
‘It’s not the corporates, they help financially in the background, it’s us the fans that make the football and we are the football’.’
He said that they were staying in the fan park paying £250-a-night.