"Hope nothing happens to him": World Cup footballer worries about the speedster

FIFA and Qatar avoid political controversy during the World Cup.

"Hope nothing happens to him": World Cup footballer worries about the speedster

FIFA and Qatar avoid political controversy during the World Cup. However, the streaker in the game between Portugal and Uruguay caused a worldwide sensation for Ukraine, for the rainbow flag and for the protests in Iran. The pros hope he's fine.

Portugal's Ruben Neves is worried about the World Cup speedster who stormed onto the pitch in Qatar with a rainbow flag in a sign of human rights. "I hope nothing happens to the boy. We all understood his message, the whole world understood it," said Neves after the 2-0 (0-0) win over Uruguay. When asked about the subject in the mixed zone in the Lusail Stadium, Neves was whispered something in his ear by an employee of the world governing body FIFA.

The speedster had rushed onto the pitch during the second half and was on the pitch for around 30 seconds before being escorted away by security guards. In addition to the rainbow flag, the man wore a T-shirt with the words "Save Ukraine" on the front and "Respect for Iranian Woman" on the back. The TV viewers got little to see of the scene, it was kept out of the worldview as much as possible.

The man was stopped by stewards and led out. Then what happened to him? FIFA and the Organizing Committee will have to answer that question. According to consistent media reports from Italy and England, the person is an Italian who has played top-flight football for clubs in his homeland, India and Jordan. Accordingly, he has appeared as a speedster several times in international competitions such as the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, the Champions League and the Italian Serie A.

The Supreme Committee of the host country and FIFA have not yet responded to an ntv.de inquiry about a possible penalty. According to ntv/RTL information, however, it is likely that only the act itself, but not the Italian's political messages, should be punished.

He transported messages that FIFA absolutely does not want to see during the World Cup, at least on the pitch. Among other things, the much-discussed and criticized ban on the "One Love" bandage with a colorful heart, which Manuel Neuer and other captains of European teams wanted to wear as a sign of diversity, openness and tolerance. Several fans also complained at the start of the World Cup that they were being asked to remove rainbow colored clothing in stadiums. Rainbow symbols are now allowed on the spectator stands.

The speedster's rainbow flag was lifted by referee Alireza Faghani and sent off. The referee is Iranian, which is probably why the speedster chose the game for his action. In Iran, there have been mass protests against the government and the country's Islamic system of rule for weeks. The authorities are trying to suppress the protests. According to human rights activists, hundreds of demonstrators have already been killed and thousands arrested.

The tournament in Qatar is the most controversial in the history of the World Cup, mainly because of the human rights situation in the Gulf Emirate. Among other things, homosexuality is criminalized in Qatar. Political debates, however, are nipped in the bud by the controversial host and world governing body FIFA.

(This article was first published on Tuesday, November 29, 2022.)

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