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'Like a Robinhood 2.0': Man invades World Cup pitch with banned rainbow flag, 'Respect for Iranian Women' shirt

By AYIE LICSI Published Nov 30, 2022 12:30 pm

A protester sent his message loud and clear when he stormed the FIFA World Cup pitch carrying a rainbow flag while wearing a Superman shirt with "Save Ukraine" printed in front and "Respect for Iranian Women" on the back.

Mario Ferri ran onto the field after the Nov. 28 game between Portugal and Uruguay in Qatar. Rainbow hats and armbands were confiscated or removed by security guards while Iran supporters were told not to wear T-shirts with messages supporting the anti-government protests in their country.

Nearing the 51st minute of the game, Ferri is seen running while waving the flag with someone running after him. While cameras avoided him onscreen, a referee was seen picking up the dropped rainbow banner.

The Italian protester revealed his motives in an Instagram post, where he described himself "like a Robinhood 2.0."

"[First,] 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," Ferri wrote.

"[Second,] FIFA banned rainbow captain 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 respects all races and all ideas."

Homosexuality is criminalized in the Islamic country of Qatar, with a maximum punishment of seven years imprisonment for men and women found to be engaging in same-sex sexual activity.

His third and final message was to save Ukraine, which is being invaded by Russia since February 2022.

"I spent a month at the war in Kyiv as a volunteer and saw how much people were suffering. We want peace in Ukraine,' Ferri added.

"Breaking the rules if you do it for a good cause is never a crime," he said.

The aftermath

Since the incident, Ferri has been banned by Qatar from World Cup matches and had his Hayya card entry permit removed.

Portugal star Rúben Neves showed his support for the protester's actions: "We know what has happened around this World Cup. It's a normal thing to happen. Of course, we are all with them as well. Iran as well, because I saw his shirt. I hope nothing happens to the boy because we understand his message and I think all the world understood it as well."