A journalist covering the World Cup in Qatar claims he was chased outside the stadium after local police mistook his regional Brazilian flag for an LGBTQ pride banner.
Victor Pereira said his phone was seized by authorities after he used it to film a man’s negative reaction to the colorful flag of the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco.
The flag depicts a rainbow, a red cross and a star in red, yellow and green colors.
He said a man wearing traditional white clothing mistook him for the rainbow flag of the LGBTQ community as he was leaving Lusail Stadium. Saudi Arabia won a shock 2-1 over Argentina Tuesday.
Same-sex relationships are illegal in the Gulf state, but the host nation’s organizers have repeatedly said “everyone is welcome” at the sporting event.
“This guy dressed in white grabbed the flag and threw it to the ground and started stomping on it. I took my phone to take a video, but he grabbed my hand and said he would only give it back if I deleted the video,” said Mr. Pereira.
“Then an officer came and tried to intervene. He took the phone from the other guy and told me to delete the video.”
Mr Pereira said he complied and deleted the clip so he could get his phone back.
He uploaded his Twitter account about the incident.
Qatar’s World Cup organizers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did the Qatari government’s media office.
The governor of Pernambuco, Paulo Camara, reported on the incident shortly after on his Twitter account.
He said: “Our solidarity with Pernambuco journalist Victor Pereira. Victor covers the Qatar Cup and the Pernambuco flag he was carrying was seized by the authorities of this country.”
Elsewhere, an American journalist said he was briefly detained on Monday after trying to enter a World Cup stadium in Qatar wearing a rainbow T-shirt in support of the LGBTQ community. He claimed that his phone was also taken from him.
On Monday, some Wales supporters in Qatar said their rainbow bucket hats had been confiscated and Downing Street said it was closely monitoring the treatment of England fans in the country.
Read more: What are Qatar’s homosexuality laws?
Some claimed they were told it was a “forbidden symbol” despite FIFA saying rainbow flags and uniforms were allowed in stadiums.
An official spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “Obviously, if we were to host any tournament, this is not the approach the government would take.
“LGBT rights are a fundamental part of the United Kingdom.
“We have raised concerns about LGBT visitors with Qatari authorities at all levels leading up to the tournament and will obviously continue to monitor this closely.”