Fan Runs Onto World Cup Field, Does Backflip Before Being Tackled

A World Cup fan managed some gymnastic moves on the field before security officials caught up with him on Wednesday.

The man was captured on video sprinting across the field at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, during the match between Tunisia and France. He was wearing a Tunisia shirt and waved a Palestinian flag in the air, which he held onto through a cartwheel and a backflip before seven security guards pinned him down. The game ended with Tunisia winning 1-0.

Several other supporters raised the green, white, black and red Palestinian flag in addition to a “Free Palestine” flag during the game, Reuters reported.

Tensions over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been prominent during the first World Cup in the Middle East. A handful of Qatari men have worn pro-Palestine armbands featuring the black-and-white design of the Palestinian keffiyeh scarf, according to photos shared on Twitter and confirmed by eyewitnesses to Reuters. Videos circulated on social media have shown soccer fans refusing to speak with Israeli TV reporters.

About 250,000 Palestinians live in Qatar, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). The nation consists mostly of foreigners and has a history of support for the Palestinian cause, like many other Gulf Arab countries.

Despite the lack of relations between Israel and Qatar, FIFA organized special direct flights for the tournament. The first-ever direct commercial flight from Israel to Qatar took fans to the World Cup on November 20. Nearly 4,000 Israelis and 8,000 Palestinians have obtained an entry visa to Qatar, according to the Associated Press (AP). As many as 20,000 Israelis could ultimately attend.

Tunisia versus France World Cup 2022
Here, Tunisia and France face off during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at Education City Stadium on November 30, 2022, in Al Rayyan, Qatar. An acrobatic World Cup fan managed a backflip on the field before he was caught by security.
Stu Forster / Staff/Getty Images Europe

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has urged its citizens to keep a low profile while attending the matches in Qatar. An online government campaign urged Israelis to hide national symbols, such as Israeli flags and Stars of David, for the sake of “personal security.”

“The Iranian team will be in the World Cup and we estimate that tens of thousands of fans will follow it, and there will be other fans from Gulf countries that we don’t have diplomatic relationship with,” said senior Israeli diplomat Lior Haiat, according to the AP.

Israel and Iran are locked in conflict. On Tuesday, the same day the U.S. and Iran faced off in the World Cup, the U.S. began a series of joint aerial exercises with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to simulate strikes on Iran’s nuclear program. The U.S. team beat Iran with a 1-0 score.

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