Spectator Invades Portugal-Uruguay Game With Support for Iranian Women, LGBTQ, Ukraine

Spectator Invades Portugal-Uruguay Game With Support for Iranian Women, LGBTQ, Ukraine originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

A spectator ran on the pitch in the 52nd minute of Uruguay and Portugal’s Group H matchup at Lusail Stadium on Monday. They were carrying a rainbow flag and wearing a t-shirt with the words “Save Ukraine” on the front and “Respect for Iranian Women” on the back.

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The referee briefly paused the game while security apprehended the pitch invader.

The rainbow flag is believed to be a commentary on Qatar, where homosexuality is criminalized.

The front of the shirt is a message of support for Ukraine, which has been at war with Russia for more than nine months. Russia is not present in Qatar after being suspended from FIFA on Feb. 28, but the federation initially faced criticism for taking a relatively light stance following the Russian invasion on Feb .24.

The back of the shirt touches on a particularly sensitive issue in Qatar regarding a team still in the hunt for a place in the knockout round.

Iran, which sits just across the Persian Gulf from Qatar, is currently embroiled in domestic strife regarding women’s rights within the country. The initial protests began in mid-September following the death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman and have continued in the months since, even taking center stage at the World Cup.

The Iranian national team has served as a flashpoint for the conflict, with players and many fans refusing to sing the country’s national anthem in the opening match. Players did sing the national anthem in their second game against Wales.

CNN reported on Monday that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) threatened players that their families could be subject to “violence and torture” if they refused to sing the national anthem or chose to participate in any political protest against the Tehran regime.