“I’m free!”: Man who interrupted World Cup match with rainbow flag will not face charges – everything we know about the pitch invader.
Fans around the world were stunned while watching the 2022 FIFA World Cup match between Portugal and Uruguay this week, when a spectator ran onto the pitch waving a rainbow flag. 🏳️🌈
The pitch invader was also wearing a shirt that read ‘Save Ukraine’ and ‘Respect For Iranian Woman.’
The person in question, who has since been identified as Italian Mario Ferr, was chased across the pitch before eventually being stopped by a security guard who tackled him to the ground.
The referee, Alireza Faghani, picked up the flag before it was eventually removed.
A man ran onto the pitch during a Qatar #FIFAWorldCup match today, carrying a Pride flag and wearing a shirt that read ‘Save Ukraine’ and ‘Respect For Iranian Woman.’#LGBTQ
📸 GETTY pic.twitter.com/lIcycfedDs
— Queer Insider 🏳️🌈 🏳️⚧️ (@qitweets) November 29, 2022
While many on social media pointed out that the flag in question was the Italian Peace flag – similar to the Pride flag, because both are rainbow stripes – the pitch invader referenced in an Instagram post (below) that, “FIFA banned rainbow captains bands and human rights flags on the stands, they blocked everyone”.
Numerous fans have had rainbow-themed clothing and items confiscated at the Qatar World Cup, due to homosexuality still being criminalised in Qatar.
It’s not known whether the reason the pitch invader was released without charge had anything to with the flag being a ‘PEACE’ flag, rather than a Pride one, but in any instance, the design almost certainly could not have been a mistake.
— NOH8 Campaign (@NOH8Campaign) November 29, 2022
Ferri has since returned to social media Tuesday (November 29), detailing that he was released with no charges.
Thirty-five-year-old Ferri is an activist and a former footballer, who it seems has been responsible for a number of pitch invasions over the years.
According to reports, Ferri has been a professional football for over nine years and was most recently contracted to second-division Indian team United Sports Club.
The league was temporarily suspended in March 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic, so Ferri returned to his hometown of Pescara.
In a post on Instagram (shared at the end of this article), the activist wrote: ‘I’M BACK. I’ll call it ‘THE LAST DANCE’ my last run on a playing field, I wanted to send some IMPORTANT messages to me that I’ve lived on my skin in the past months.’
He then went on to say: 1) A message for Iran where I have friends who are suffering, where women are not respected… THE WORLD MUST CHANGE, we can do it together with STRONG gestures, that come from the heart, WITH COURAGE. 🇮🇹 🤝 🇮🇷
2) FIFA banned rainbow captains bands and human rights flags on the stands, they blocked everyone, BUT NOT ME, like a Robinhood 2.0 I brought the message of the PEOPLE 🏳️ 🌈 We want a free world that laughs fucks all races and all the ideas.
3) SAVE THE UKRAINE. I spent a month at the war in Kiev as a volunteer and saw how much that people were suffering. WE WANT PEACE UK️ IN UKRAINE, GLORY TO UKRAINE
This year’s World Cup tournament has been dominated by off-field matters.
Concerns have been raised over the reported number of migrant workers who died during the construction of Qatar’s World Cup stadiums, with many outlets suggesting that the total figure has been wildly under-exaggerated for the sake of Qatar’s public image.
Football governing body FIFA has also been heavily condemned since announcing that the 2022 tournament would be held in Qatar, where homosexuality is still criminalised – punishable by prison and in some cases death – and same-sex marriages are not recognised by the government.
Multiple appeals to suspend these laws during the World Cup were thrown out.
Just one day before the 2022 tournament got underway, England, Wales and five other European nations back down from wearing the ‘OneLove’ armband, which had been intended to silently protest discrimination in Qatar.
Team captains were expected to wear FIFA-approved armbands promoting different social messages throughout the tournament.
FIFA reportedly only replied to a weeks-old notification from the teams, which detailed their intention to sport the bands, hours before the opening ceremony began.
The likes of David Beckham, along with other England players and commentators, have been heavily condemned for endorsing Qatar in big money deals, despite its human rights record seeming to contradict their overall public image.
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