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English fans refused entry to World Cup game because of ‘offensive’ Crusader outfits

Social media images showed two fancy-dress knights trying to get through security before the England game

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

An Englishman who was refused entry to his country’s World Cup game against Iran because he was dressed as a Crusader has said it is the fans who make football.

The indignant fan was speaking to TalkTV after he was turned away from the game that England won 6-2 on Monday.

Social media images showed two fancy-dress knights trying to get through security before England's match while wearing chainmail and helmets bearing the St George's Cross.

The pair, who were also carrying novelty swords, were escorted away by four officers at the security gate before kick-off. There were even suggestions that they had been detained.

England fans often support their team by dressing in the colours of St George, their nation's patron saint.

It has been a popular sight in previous World Cups, but 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.

Fans dressed as Crusaders are stopped from going into the game

One man still dressed in chainmail, and with the St George Cross on his face, 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.”

The man, who was not named, added that they were staying in the fan park and paying £250-a-night.

It has been reported that some Doha residents have been upset by the choice of outfit, given the Crusades, a series of religious wars between 1095 and 1291, were about taking land and holy sites under Islamic control.

One historical researcher Robert Carter tweeted: “The attire, complete with swords and crosses, is offensive due to crusader history of rape, slaughter and occupation of Arab lands.”

The biggest Crusades took place between 1096 and 1291 when Christian armies fought to seize Jerusalem and the surrounding area from Islamic rule.

Meanwhile, bars in Doha are demanding fans who are wearing traditional Arabic robes and headdress remove them over fears it could offend locals and insult Islam.

The clothing has become popular among fans and is being widely sold in the team colours of the 32 nations playing at the tournament.

There has also been mounting criticism of the Qatari police's forceful handling of fans in a row over LGBT symbols.

Qatar officials have repeatedly stated 'all are welcome' at the World Cup, despite the fact same-sex relationships remain illegal in the country.

Fans and journalists from multiple nations have reported rainbow-themed items, including t-shirts, bucket hats and flags, being confiscated by officials.

The sale of beer was also banned at stadiums in an 11th-hour about turn by Qatari officials.

The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has previously demanded all visitors “respect our culture”/

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