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Spectator who stormed World Cup match waving LGBT flag is Italian footballer-turned-campaigner

Activist Mario Ferri, burst onto the pitch in the second half of the match waving the Pride flag

REVEALED: The spectator who stormed the World Cup match waving the LGBT flag and wearing a Superman t-shirt demanding ‘respect for Iranian women’ is an Italian footballer turned trotting pitch invader nicknamed ‘The Falcon” which helped Ukrainian refugees

The protester who ran onto the pitch during the Portugal-Uruguay World Cup match in Qatar is a footballer turned globetrotting activist, it has been learned.

Mario Ferri wore a blue superman t-shirt with the words ‘Save Ukraine’ written across the front as he burst onto the pitch in the second half of Monday night’s group stage match.

The t-shirt also had ‘respect for the Iranian woman [sic]’ written on the back in reference to anti-regime protests in Iran in recent months.

Ferri, known as “The Falcon”, is an Italian footballer for India’s second division United Sports Club who worked in Ukraine leading refugees to safety in Poland.

He invaded the pitches on several occasions before wearing his signature superman shirt in Italy and South America to raise awareness of issues such as “saving the children of the favelas”.

Mario Ferri, known as

Mario Ferri, known as “The Falcon”, is an Italian footballer and aid worker in Ukraine.

Ferri was tackled to the ground by security during the pro-LGBT rights protest in Qatar

Ferri was tackled to the ground by security during the pro-LGBT rights protest in Qatar

Footballer and activist Ferri had written

Footballer and activist Ferri wrote ‘respect for Iranian women’ on the back of his superman t-shirt

Ferri posted on his social media showing his work in Ukraine leading refugees to Poland

Ferri posted on his social media showing his work in Ukraine leading refugees to Poland

The activist was even placed under house arrest in Italy for a series of pitch invasions and trained in World Cup pitch invasions, storming the pitch at the 2014 tournament in Brazil with his “favela” t-shirt.

Ferri said earlier this year he felt the need to act when Putin invaded Ukraine and chased dozens of refugees across the border into Poland.

He told CBS Sport: “I do it myself. I pay for everything and I don’t want anything in return. I almost had a fight the other day because I saw a man asking for money for do what I do. It’s unacceptable, people are desperate here and few people want to make a business out of it.

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“I go to Lviv, look for people who need help and drive for five, 10, 15 hours. Lviv is like a port for Ukrainians who want to leave the country.

‘Out of the country [in Poland especially] is full of people helping, but in Ukraine many fear that something could happen to them.

The influencer shared his work in Ukraine on his social media, along with photos from his football career and a video of him handing out money at a nightclub.

After running on the field for a few minutes, the protester was taken away by security

After running on the field for a few minutes, the protester was taken away by security

He was carried away by security after bursting onto the pitch during the match between Portugal and Uruguay

He was carried away by security after bursting onto the pitch during the match between Portugal and Uruguay

'The Falcon' has a history of field invasions to campaign for his chosen causes.  Pictured: Ferri on the pitch during a game between Belgium and USA in Brazil in 2014

‘The Falcon’ has a history of field invasions to campaign for his chosen causes. Pictured: Ferri on the pitch during a game between Belgium and USA in Brazil in 2014

Ferri also invaded a match between Juventus and Napoli in 2017, where he threw a scarf at striker Gonzalo Higuaín (left)

Ferri also invaded a match between Juventus and Napoli in 2017, where he threw a scarf at striker Gonzalo Higuaín (left)

Ferri was chased by security across the pitch as he held the Pride flag above his head during the Portugal v Uruguay game in Lusail, Qatar, before eventually being caught and taken away.

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The match referee picked up the Pride flag after it was dropped on the turf as the man was carried away to allow play to continue after a few minutes’ interruption.

Some fans cheered in support for the protester as he ran across the pitch before being coached.

Being gay is illegal in Qatar with a prison term of up to seven years, which has sparked huge controversy around the tournament.

Many players and pundits, including the Wales and Germany teams, have been embroiled in a row with FIFA over their right to wear One Love armbands during their matches.

FIFA bosses have threatened ‘unlimited’ disciplinary action and yellow cards if players wear the armband in support of controversial hosts Qatar.

Fans were also barred from wearing rainbow bucket hats and carrying rainbow flags in stadiums.

Ferri dropped the Pride flag in midfield as he was chased by security, forcing play to a halt

Ferri dropped the Pride flag in midfield as he was chased by security, forcing play to a halt

Match referee Alireza Faghani, an Iranian, picks up the rainbow flag as the man is taken away.  Play resumed shortly after

Match referee Alireza Faghani, an Iranian, picks up the rainbow flag as the man is taken away. Play resumed shortly after

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