How the Norfolk flag caused Russia World Cup security alert
PUBLISHED: 13:58 26 June 2018 | UPDATED: 08:02 27 June 2018
Russian authorities at the World Cup have accused an England fan from Norwich of making political statements by waving the Norfolk flag.
23-year-old Daniel Henery, from Norwich, has been pulled up by security guards at both England matches in the tournament so far to have the flag inspected.
He said security had assumed it could be sectarian or spreading “some kind of political message” like “flying the flag for Norfolk independence”.
At the matches against Tunisia and Panama, Mr Henery has been stopped by security and questioned about the flag.
But he said he could not explain it properly in English, let alone in Russian.
“I have taken it to both games so far and both times have been a difficult matter getting it in,” he said.
“For the first game it was in my bag and I pulled it out, and they were asking me in Russian to explain what the flag meant.
“I didn’t know how to explain the elements of it except to say it is a flag from Norfolk.
“I did not know what the dragon meant, and even if I was asked to explain it in English I would have no idea. They took me through three security people and kept saying ‘oblast’ over and over again which wasn’t getting us anywhere.”
Mr Henery was eventually allowed into the stadium for the Tunisia match but, after 70mins, security guards approached him again.
“They were worried it had some kind of political message, like I was flying the flag for Norfolk independence,” he said.
“I kept trying to explain and we had a five minute argument among all us fans and in the end they gave up.
“When we went to the second game it was the same story and they were worried it was too political. I think they were concerned I was protesting about something because it is not a flag they were familiar with.
“I thought having something that doesn’t make me stick out to people as an England fan but still represents where I am from would be something a little different.”
Norwich-based Future Radio presenter Di Cunningham also had issues with security during the 6-1 victory over Panama, as her rainbow Pride flag was pulled down half-way through the match.
She had been told “those colours are not allowed in the stadium” despite the Russian FA and FIFA giving assurances the LGBT rainbow could be displayed.