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The World Cup match between Portugal and Uruguay was halted after a pitch invader ran on with a rainbow flag. Tournament hosts Qatar have a poor record on LGBTQ+ rights with many people believing it should have been enough to stop the Middle Eastern country from hosting the competition. The man has been identified as Mario Ferri, a former professional footballer from Italy.

Ferri’s t-shirt also carried the message ‘Save Ukraine’ and ‘Respect for Iranian women’ as the protestor spoke out on some of the biggest global issues. Qatar have clamped down on protests within the stadium during the World Cup and the pitch invader may face severe punishment from the authorities. 

Express Sport reporter Jack Otway was present in the Lusail Stadium when the incident took place.  He reported: “In a surreal moment, the bravest of pitch invaders sprints onto the pitch with a rainbow flag draped around him.

“He sprints as though his life is depending on it and gives one security guard the slip before a second jumps on him. The fan is then taken away. Now, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

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There have also been reports that those in the stands have been stopped from taking part in peaceful protests on a range of issues. Wales supporters have been prevented from entering in rainbow bucket hats while journalists have been stopped from wearing items adorned with rainbows on their way into the grounds. 

A woman was also stopped by security from protesting the situation in Iran as they confiscated plaques and t-shirts which carried messages supporting human rights. 

The match quickly got back underway following the pitch invasion, with Bruno Fernandes opening the scoring for Portugal shortly after they had been removed.