All eyes are on Wales and England today as they play their second World Cup group matches following a row over wearing the OneLove armbands and fans bringing rainbow-coloured hats and flags into stadiums.
Fifa has confirmed that rainbow clothes or flags for upcoming games in Qatar will now be allowed after bucket hats and wristbands were confiscated from Wales fans before Monday’s match against the USA.
Former Wales captain Laura McAllister was among those asked to remove her hat when entering the Ahmed Bin Ali stadium for the opening match.
The Football Association of Wales (FAW) said Fifa has confirmed fans with rainbow-coloured items can enter the stadium for Friday’s clash with Iran after they confiscated them ahead of Wales’ 1-1 draw with the USA.
But LGBT fans’ groups have today hit out at the world governing body and its president Gianni Infantino.
No Pride Without All tweeted: “Fifa have have finally said what happened to fans & journalists this week shouldn’t have happened & have taken steps to prevent a reoccurrence.
“Given how empty the assurances it wouldn’t happen in the first place were, why should this be believed?”
A spokesperson from England supporters’ group Three Lions Pride said: “FIFA have shown again and again that their word means nothing.
“Infantino was quick to write letters and make speeches to try and silence those challenging assurances before the World Cup started, why is he so quiet now?”
In a statement, The FAW said said Fifa had confirmed that fans with Rainbow Wall bucket hats and rainbow flags will be allowed entry to the stadium for the match against Iran.
They said: “All World Cup venues have been contacted and instructed to follow the agreed rules & regulations.
“The FAW urges Fifa to adhere to their message that everybody will be welcome in Qatar during the World Cup and continue to highlight any further human rights issues. We remain with the belief that football is for everyone.”
The Welsh Government has said children will be allowed to watch the game, which kicks off at 10am UK time, while in class, with Gareth Bale urging teachers let pupils watch the World Cup so they can have a “mini history lesson” in Qatar.
Fans have also been advised against wearing fancy-dress costumes representing knights or crusaders to avoid causing offence.
A spokeswoman for anti-discrimination group Kick It Out said: “We would advise fans who are attending Fifa World Cup matches that certain attire, such as fancy-dress costumes representing knights or crusaders, may not be welcomed in Qatar and other Islamic countries.”
England manager Gareth Southgate has not ruled out his team making a gesture ahead of their game with the USA to highlight human rights concerns, but said they will not be pressured into doing so.
Today’s Group B matches come just days after the decision to not wear the rainbow-coloured armband after Fifa issued warnings that captains Harry Kane and Gareth Bale would receive yellow cards. England play the USA at 7pm UK time.
Germany, one of seven European teams which had planned to wear the armband ahead of Fifa’s decision, protested before their defeat to Japan by covering their mouths to indicate they had been gagged.
LGBT England fans have told i they want to see the Three Lions follow Germany’s lead and make a gesture of solidarity in todays World Cup clash with the USA after their last-minute U-turn on wearing the “OneLove” armband.
Lisa Robinson, 43, from Aston Villa fans group Villa and Proud, told i: “I’d like to see them wear the rainbow armband or rainbow wristband or rainbow laces.
“[Wearing the OneLove armband] wasn’t a big gesture. But for them to then decide that they weren’t doing it anyway was even more of a kick in the teeth.
“If they genuinely believed in something, then they would have done it. Germany didn’t wear the armband, but they still displayed a form of protest. I would be disappointed if England don’t do anything.”
Karen Barham, 60, asked if the Three Lions’ players should follow Germany’s lead, told the PA news agency: “Yeah, if they can they keep it under wraps, they do something well coordinated but there’s nothing leaked in advance.
“What are they going to do? Book the whole team?”
But Southgate has played down the chances of England mounting a similar protest today.
Ahead of the USA game, Southgate said: “I think we’ve got to be comfortable that we know what we stand for.
“That’s not to say we won’t do anything moving forward if the timing’s right, but I think we are rushing to be seen to be doing something, we could make an error that doesn’t land well.”
Wales’s game against Iran kicks off at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium at 10am UK time, with the England USA clash starting at the Al Bayt Stadium at 7pm.
A win for England would see them qualify for the last 16 after their 6-2 over Iran in the opening group game.