Portugal is through to the knockout stage of the FIFA World Cup after a hard-fought victory over Uruguay.
Manchester United’s versatile midfielder, Bruno Fernandes, scored a goal from afar and one from the spot to put Uruguay in a tough spot. The South American team needs a victory in their final group game against Ghana to progress to the Round of 16.
In an end-to-end and all-thrilling encounter between the Portuguese and the Uruguayans, there was a moment when a pitch invader stopped proceedings.
Football is accustomed to such pitch invaders who rush either to get a photo clicked with their idols or with a message imprinted on their shirts or bodies to raise awareness about a cause.
There is no doubt that the atrocities across the world are at an all-time high. Whether they are against marginalized communities such as LGBTQIA+, women in Iran, or Russia’s war against Ukraine.
These are all matters that have now, for long, upset the established order of the world. The Black Lives Matter movement and the violence against Palestinians are other causes that need attention.
But the host of the tournament, Qatar, made it clear. They will have no tolerance policy against anyone who tries to hoist the rainbow flag associated with the LGBTQIA+ community or protest against any cause that may hamper the proceedings at this World Cup.
However, one Italian man stood up and assert his human right to protest against an entire country.
During the Portugal and Uruguay game, a man rushed to the pitch wearing a Superman T-shirt that had ‘Save Ukraine’ in the front and ‘Respect for Iranian Women’ at the back, all while waving the rainbow flag to show his support for the LGBTQIA+ flag.
Later, after he was apprehended by the relevant authorities, his identity was revealed to Mario Ferri, an Italian known as ‘The Falcon’ by people who are close to him.
Mario is notorious for pitch invasions across the globe but has an impressive resume as a professional football player with United Sports Club in Kolkata, a second-division side in India.
No matter where he is, Mario is always looking to cause trouble. He has travelled from Europe to South America with the sole intention of storming the pitch while wearing his Superman T-shirt.
The most surprising part about his story is that after invading the pitch, he ends up befriending the players as well, which adds to his notorious fame.
Mario is not only an ex-football player and professional pitch invader, but he is also a humanitarian.
Since the war broke out in Ukraine, Mario has been helping people in that war-torn country. He drives families in Ukraine to the Poland border where they can seek asylum until the war goes raging in their country.
The Italian is doing so completely out of his pocket and doesn’t seek anything in return. He also wishes to be the first football player to play on five continents.
Unfortunately, his act in Qatar has angered the authorities with no immediate resolution in sight.
The Qatari are hellbent on not changing or tweaking their laws for the global event. They even came out with a warning earlier, imploring people not to tease their laws or they will face repercussions.
Mario has the support of the global community, but many were worried about what would befall him considering the strict anti-LGBTQ views of Qatar.
As it turns out, the Qatar World Cup organisers released him shortly after being removed from the pitch.
The Italian embassy was informed of his actions and his Hayya Card has been cancelled. Needless to say, he is banned from attending future matches in the tournament.