England fans have been warned not to go medieval by dressing up in “offensive” crusader costumes for the highly anticipated match against the United States on Friday.
FIFA issued a strong warning against dressing up in the traditional imitation outfits of chain mail, shields, and swords.
The governing body of soccer, according to an official, “strives to create a discrimination-free environment, to promote diversity across the organization and in all of its activities and events.”
According to the official, “crusader costumes in the Arab context can be offensive against Muslims.” That is why anti-discrimination colleagues advised fans to wear things inside out or change their clothing.”
Many Arabs are offended by the Crusades, in which Christians attempted to capture Jerusalem and surrounding areas under Islamic rule from the 11th to 13th centuries.
FIFA is cracking down on the costumes after images emerged of England supporters wearing them during the team’s opener against Iran, which it defeated 6-2.
Culture and human rights issues have taken center stage at the World Cup in Qatar, where some Wales fans were ordered to remove rainbow-colored hats representing the LGBT community during their team’s 1-1 tie with the US.
Same-sex relations are illegal in Qatar.
Simon John, a senior lecturer in medieval history at Swansea University in south Wales, explained the significance of the Crusades in the Muslim world.
“As soon as you know anything about crusading history, you know it would produce a reaction like this in the Islamic world,” he told NBC News.
“We’re talking about a period of history that is still very much remembered and talked about in the Muslim world in quite a detailed way — the same is not true in the West,” John added.
It is unclear if the fans wearing the red-and-white costumes are imitating St. George, the patron saint of England, or Crusaders, the news outlet said.
“Qatari laws and customs are very different to those in the U.K. Be aware of your actions to ensure that they don’t offend,” the British Foreign Office advised British fans.