A Brazilian journalist covering the soccer World Cup in Qatar said police harassed him outside the stadium after a regional Brazilian flag was mistaken for an LGBTQ pride flag.
Victor Pereira said local cops seized his cellphone after he began filming a man’s hostile reaction to the colorful flag he had with him.
The flag, which features a rainbow, a red cross and a star, represents Brazil’s northeastern Pernambuco state.
Pereira said he was leaving the Lusail Stadium after Saudi Arabia won 2-1 over Argentina when a man wearing a traditional white dress mistook the regional flag for a LGBTQ flag.
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and punishable by prison.
The regional flag offended the man so deeply he ripped it out of Pereira’s hand and attempted to destroy it.
“This guy wearing a white dress grabbed the flag, threw it on the ground and started stomping on it. I took my phone to record a video but he grabbed it from my hand and said he would only give it back if I deleted the video,” Pereira said.
“Then an officer arrived and tried to intervene. He grabbed the phone from the other guy and ordered me to delete the video.”
The Brazilian journalist said he obeyed to ensure he would get his phone back as he uses it for work. His story began circulating Tuesday after he shared a video to Twitter describing what had happened.
Pernambuco’s governor Paulo Camara expressed his solidarity with Pereira on Twitter, sharing a photo of the flag and writing: “The police saw exactly what our flag represents: freedom, diversity and unity. Values that we are proud to take to the four corners of the world.”
On Monday, American journalist Grant Wahl tweeted that he was not allowed into the World Cup stadium due to his shirt having a rainbow flag etched across it.
Donning a T-shirt with a soccer ball surrounded by a rainbow flag, Wahl was not permitted to enter the stadium to view the US-Wales match.
Wahl tweeted that he was told: “You have to change your shirt. It’s not allowed.”
Later that day Wahl tweeted an update, saying he was “OK, but that was an unnecessary ordeal.
“Am in the media center, still wearing my shirt. Was detained for nearly half an hour. Go gays,” Wahl wrote.
With Post wires.