Wales supporters wearing rainbow hats for Monday’s match against USA were confronted by security guards and told they were not allowed to enter the stadium until they had removed the items of clothing.
Laura McAllister is a former Wales captain who represented her country between 1994 and 2001 and is now professor of public policy and the governance of Wales at Cardiff University, as well as the deputy chair of Uefa’s women’s football committee.
The bucket hats are designed by The Rainbow Wall, the Welsh LGBTQ+ Supporters Group, who said on social media that only female supporters were being told to remove them.
McAllister told ITV: “When we got through security some of the security guards said we had to take the hat off. When I asked them why, they said it was a banned symbol and we weren’t allowed to wear it in the stadium.
“I pointed out that Fifa had made lots of comments about supporting LGBT rights in this tournament, and said to them that, coming from a nation where we are very passionate about ensuring there is 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.
“I think we have had plenty of warning that this wasn’t going to be a World Cup 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.”
McAllister and other supporters were told to hand their hats in at a lost property section before reclaiming them after the match, but she said she was still able to sneak it into the ground.
Earlier in the evening, US journalist Grant Wahl claimed he was detained for 25 minutes for wearing a T-shirt in support of LGBTQ+ rights. Wahl said on social media that security “forcibly” took his phone and demanded he remove his shirt, which he refused to do.