Mario Ferri, the pitch invader at the World Cup who carried a rainbow flag, has spoken out about why he made the protest.
Ferri, an Italian lower-level footballer himself, ran onto the pitch during Portugal’s win over Uruguay with the flag in support of LGBTQ+ rights. He also wore a t-shirt with ‘Save Ukraine’ on the front and ‘Respect Iranian Women’ on the back.
There were concerns over the safety of Ferri, who is a well-known activist who calls himself ‘The Falcon,’ after his protest given the laws in Qatar, but he has used his social media to confirm he is safe as well as explain why he did it.
“Thanks for all the messages of love coming to me from the world, Iran and Ukraine,” Ferri wrote on Instagram. “Breaking the rules, if you do it for a good cause, is never a crime.
“I will call it “the last dance” - my last run on a playing field. I wanted to send important messages for me.
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“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.
“FIFA banned captain armbands with rainbow and human rights flags in the stands, they blocked everyone, but not me. Like a Robinhood 2.0, I carried the message of the people. We want a free world that respects all races and all ideas.”
On his ‘Save Ukraine’ message, Ferri said: “I was a month in the war in Kiev as a volunteer and I saw how much those people are suffering. “We want peace in Ukraine, [not a] slave Ukraine.
Earlier. Portugal midfielder Ruben Neves had called for leniency from Qatari authorities over any potential punishment for Ferri, saying: "Of course, we are all with them and the message on his shirt for Iran as well. We hope nothing happens to the boy because we understand his message and I think all the world understood it as well.
"We know what has happened around this World Cup. It is a normal thing that can happen."