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First Gulf Wear: Qatar's national football team protest blockade with T-shirts Open in fullscreen

Karim Traboulsi

First Gulf Wear: Qatar's national football team protest blockade with T-shirts

The image has become a symbol of Qatar's defiance [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 14 June, 2017

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On Tuesday, Team Qatar players warmed up for a World Cup qualifier against South Korea Tuesday in T-shirts expressing solidarity with their small nation against a Saudi-Emirati led blockade.

It may not be a war in the Gulf, but pitched battles are being fought, and team jerseys have become a weapon of choice.

On Tuesday, Team Qatar players warmed up for a World Cup qualifier against South Korea in T-shirts expressing solidarity with the leaders of their small nation against a Saudi-Emirati-led blockade.

The players prepared for the crucial game in Doha wearing white shirts emblazoned with a profile portrait of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, an image that has in recent days become a widely-used symbol of defiance by Qataris.

The T-shirt was also waved by attacking midfielder Hasan al-Haydos after he put the Qataris 1-0 ahead from a free-kick in the 25th minute in the 3-2 win.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their sidekicks teamed up against Qatar early last week, imposing an illegal blockade against Doha and cutting all ties with their fellow GCC team-mate. 

They have used the "terrorism" card to justify their measures, but the small emirate has cried foul, saying the blindside move is meant to curb its independent foreign policy and outspoken Doha-based media.

But Qatar's national team could yet face disciplinary action from FIFA, which bans any unsanctioned political, religious or commercial messages on shirts.
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Using T-shirts to communicate political and solidarity messages is nothing unusual, however.

Qatar's Uruguayan coach Jorge Fossati defended his players and then condemned the "ridiculous situation" of the "blockade" on the emirate.

"I don't see something that can receive a punishment as it is a T-shirt with a picture of the emir," he said.

"It doesn't say anything against anybody."

This is only the second time football T-shirts have been used in the ongoing anti-Qatar crisis.

Last week, reports emerged suggesting football fans in the UAE and Saudi Arabia wearing a Barcelona FC jersey could land a $135,000 fine or 15 years in prison, as the kit displays the name of sponsor Qatar Airways.

This follows the passing of Orwellian laws in both countries, as well as in Bahrain, severely criminalising "sympathy" with Qatar. Given the loosely defined notion of sympathy, prosecutors in these Gulf states could well interpret the wearing of these T-shirts as support for Qatar.


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