Sports journalist Jon Pagh was interrupted while filming a piece about the World Cup near Doha and told by Qatari police that he must take off his OneLove armband
A Danish journalist was left shaken after being told by Qatari police to remove a OneLove armband while filming a World Cup segment in Doha on Monday.
Jon Pagh, from Danish station TV 2 Sport, was filming a piece to camera outside the Denmark squad’s hotel when he was stopped by local police. In a video posted to social media, the officer is shown informing the journalist that he must take off the armband, which has proven to be a hot topic during the opening few days of the controversial tournament in the Middle Eastern country.
Pagh refused to take it off, replying: “I respect that you are telling me that, but I can’t take it off. Why is it not allowed? Is it because of the colours?”
The policeman said “yeah” before reacting by pushing away the camera. “It is just one love,” Pagh protested. “It is just respecting everybody.”
The Danish journalist later explained what happened, and his stance, in an interview. “I think that when we are down here, we must be careful about doing activism, and we must be especially careful about provoking situations, but it was not at all in my mind that it would provoke anything,” he told Danish newspaper Tipbladet.
“I myself am also very careful not to do activism, but it is the same political message that is in FIFA’s rules and human rights.
“For me it is not politics. It’s human rights. It is an article of clothing which I wear and which in the Western world and according to all human rights I am allowed to wear.
“I really hope that no one takes this as an attempt to provoke anything. We are standing in the middle of the dark, 30 kilometres out in the desert. I didn’t think for a second that this could be a problem.”
Captains of England, Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark were due to wear the OneLove armbands at the World Cup, in a show of support of the LGBTQ+ community. But they announced in a joint statement on Monday that the idea had been dropped due to pressure from FIFA, who warned the players would be booked.
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and there have already been a spate of incidents around rainbow imagery at the tournament, with Wales supporters prevented from attending their opening match against the USA on Monday night with multi-coloured bucket hats. Former England international Alex Scott drew headlines for wearing the OneLove armband live on BBC One’s coverage of England’s 6-2 win over Iran.
Denmark opened their World Cup with a 0-0 draw against Tunisia, with the OneLove armband missing from the game. Before the match, manager Kasper Hjulmand expressed his disappointment with FIFA’s decision to effectively block players from supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
“This is not something invented for this occasion. It’s something we have done before,” Hjulmand said. “I can’t see the problem to be honest. For me, it’s also a big question mark.”