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Fifa has criticized Qatar for “running the show” over LGBTQ+ protest threats

Fifa has again been criticized for its handling of World Cup teams who show their support for the LGBTQ+ community, with claims that the Qatari hosts are “running the show”.

Germany’s players covered their mouths during a team photo ahead of their 2-1 defeat by Japan to show that “FIFA is silencing us” by banning attempts to wear rainbow-colored armbands.

Seven European nations, including England and Wales, abandoned plans to wear the anti-discrimination symbol after Fifa threatened sporting sanctions.

The Football Association declined to comment on whether England would copy Germany’s gesture, which could lead to disciplinary action, ahead of Friday’s game against the United States.

Fans in Doha were also divided on whether home countries Germany should follow suit.

England fan James Fogarty, 39, who lives in Connecticut in the US but is originally from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, told the PA news agency: ‘We knew what we were getting, right – the World Cup shouldn’t have been here but now here it is, it is what it is.”

Asked about the armband range, he said: “One of the things that’s a bit irritating is that you can go to the fan shop, you can go to the stadiums and you can only pay with Visa, you can only drink Budweiser, you can only drink Adidas -Buy shirts and Fifa is sold out, right, and Fifa has also sold out to the kings of Qatar.

“They are clearly not making the show, the Qataris are making the show and that is unfortunate.”

On whether England should follow Germany’s protest, Mr Fogarty said: “As my son said, the Germans have a bit of history of their own and no country is perfect.

“I don’t like it when pop stars lecture me about politics, I don’t really want footballers to lecture me about politics.

“We know we’re not supposed to be here, I wish they were just playing football.”

Ryan Tobin, 29, from Bridgend, South Wales, expressed concern at rainbow bucket hats being confiscated from fellow Welsh fans.

Mr Tobin and his friend Dylan Thomas, 28, from Maesteg, south Wales, said Wales captain Gareth Bale probably should have worn the One Love armband to send a signal even if he risked being booked.

Asked whether Wales should follow Germany’s lead, Mr Tobin said: ‘Yes, why not? It makes a statement doesn’t it?”

Mr Thomas added: “It’s important to show that you are together.”

Joe Lyddon, 31, from Wrexham, said: “I thought they should have all just worn the armbands and just taken the yellow card.

“If they are that serious I think Bale was booked and would have been sent off but that’s the risk you have to take.”

Fans have reported that rainbow items, including t-shirts and Wales bucket hats, were confiscated by officials in Qatar during the tournament.

Rainbow colored corner flags featuring the Welsh dragon appeared at the team’s training ground in Al-Sadd, Doha on Wednesday.

Secretary of State James Cleverly said gay rights was an issue he had raised with Qatar “for several years”.

He told the BBC: “I have made it clear that this is an issue very close to our hearts and indeed one of the benefits of having strong relationships with other countries is that you can have these difficult conversations.

“Qatarians know how seriously we take this issue and they have taken real steps to ensure gay football fans are safe and can feel safe and enjoy football.”

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