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England fans told how they were forced to strip naked by World Cup security guards after turning up to a match dressed as Crusaders.
Two ex-pats said they were turned away five times for wearing the "offensive" fancy dress. They missed the first half of the Three Lions' opening match against Iran after being challenged by a guard who tugged at the outfits and asked: "Are you here to kill Muslims?"
The pair, who asked not to be named fearing reprisals from Qatar's hardline Islamic regime, had helped in building World Cup venues over the past 10 years.
READ MORE: World Cup fan known as 'T*ts Man' forced to remove inflatable boobs by Qatar cops
They reluctantly agreed to have their garb – comprising chainmail, helmets and rubber swords – confiscated. But when they tried to enter to watch the second half wearing t-shirts and shorts they were ushered to a side room and ordered to strip.
One – a 57-year-old engineer – said their costumes were meant to be jokes like those worn in hit movie comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail. "They were hand made in India,’’ he said.
"They cost £3,000 each. We thought it would be a laugh to dress up for the game in keeping with the tradition we’ve seen at virtually every previous World Cup. But the staff at the security checkpoints first denied us entry because of our helmets then said the shields and rubber swords were a problem, then the tunics were offensive.
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"We ended up going back and forth five or six times to various checkpoints all the time complying with their requests. This went on for two-and-a-half hours and led to us missing the first half so we decided to ditch all the gear as we’d paid more than £180 for our tickets.
"But as we tried to get in we were taken into a small side room by three staff and told to strip naked. I have quite a few tattoos and they spent a lot of time studying them and mocking me.
"We weren't given intimate searches. They just wanted to demean us and teach us a lesson. I couldn't believe what was happening and when I got down to my underpants I asked: 'Do you really want to see my penis?' One of them replied: 'Yes. Take them off.'
"There was no reason for it. They didn't even search us. It was just ritual humiliation – absolutely appalling treatment."
His 56-year-old builder buddy – who has worked on some of the eight stadia built during Qatar’s £185 billion World Cup spending spree – said: "I have many Muslim friends and colleagues here and was horrified by the guards' conduct.
"We came in fancy dress like many England fans have in the past but these people did not see the funny side at all. They were very nasty. At one point one of them tugged at my chainmail and asked me: 'Have you come here to kill Muslims?'
"I told him: 'I've come here to have fun and watch the football mate. What are you talking about?' We were cross about missing the first half by the time we tried to enter wearing ordinary clothes but were both shocked when they ordered a strip search. Three security staff in a very small room stood around us pointing and sneering. It was awful."
The duo said they had not officially complained to authorities about the incident. "What is the point in this place?" the builder commented.
"If I complained to the police I'd lose my job and get deported immediately – that's the reality of life here. Everything has been scrubbed clean and whitewashed for the World Cup but everyone here lives in a climate of fear."
A video circulated on social media showed four officers at a security corden escorting the pair away before England's 6-2 triumph over Iran at Doha's Khalifa International Stadium. England fans have supported the team dressed as crusader knight St George – the nation's patron saint – at every previous World Cup.
But FIFA officials warned it was unwise to don the costumes in Qatar in light of the Islamic nation's history. The best-known Crusades took place between 1095 and 1291 when Christian armies fought bloody battles to seize Jerusalem and the surrounding area from Islamic rule.
Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out has warned fancy dress 'knights or crusaders' may not be a laughing matter at this World Cup.
A FIFA spokesman said: "Crusader costumes in the Arab context can be offensive against Muslims. That is why Anti-Discrimination colleagues asked fans to wear things inside out or change dress." T
hey added that FIFA was striving to "create a discrimination-free environment" and "promote diversity across the organisation".
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