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England fans barred from wearing ‘offensive’ crusader costumes in Qatar

England fans will be banned from Friday’s match in Qatar against the United States and future World Cup games if they wear crusader replica costumes which are considered culturally insensitive in a Muslim country, FIFA has said.

Images of some fans dressed as crusaders at Monday’s 6-2 win over Iran in the Qatari capital Doha were criticised online, prompting the sport’s world governing body to crack down on the costumes.

Supporters often attend England matches dressed as St George, the patron saint usually depicted as a knight on horseback, although footage shared on Twitter appeared to show two England fans wearing chain mail and helmets being turned around by officials prior to Monday’s victory over Iran.

“These costumes in an Arab or Middle Eastern context can be perceived as being offensive so that’s the reason for them not being permitted in stadiums,” a FIFA spokesperson said.

For many Arabs, the word crusade conjures up a painful history of violent invasion by Christians seeking to capture Jerusalem and nearby areas under Islamic rule in the 11th to 13th centuries.

A spokesperson for anti-racism group Kick It Out has warned England fans against wearing the costumes to matches at the World Cup by insisting that they may not be taken kindly to by officials at stadiums in Qatar if they decide to dress up in such a manner.

“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,” said the spokesperson.

“Foreign Office travel advice issued before the tournament expressed that fans should familiarise themselves with local customs, and we would encourage fans to take this approach.”

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