2018 FIFA WORLD CUP RUSSIA™14 Jun - 15 Jul

World Cup: Lebanese football fans told not to raise flags; risk prosecution

BEIRUT: Beirut Governor Ziad Chebib has outlawed raising any "foreign flag in support of teams participating in the upcoming FIFA World Cup, in line with the law enacted on 19/10/1945."

In a bizarre decision, which had never been previously implemented, any Lebanese caught raising a foreign flag in public within Beirut will be prosecuted and face heavy fines. 

"Lifting a foreign flag is in violation of the law issued on 19/10/1945, which prohibits lifting any other flag within Lebanon's territory," the statement read.  

As the World Cup graces football's fans television screens once every four years, enthusiasts raising the flag of the team they support has become a common sight. 

This seemingly innocent act has now been prohibited by an out of context law enacted more than 73 years ago, when Lebanon was still grasping with the notion of independence from French colonial rule. 

The World Cup and the enthusiasm that comes with it translates into increased sales for small vendors, who await this tournament to make ends meet. 

A vendor in Jal El Dib lamented this year's sales, telling Annahar that "more flags were sold during election day;" while another, in Beirut, decried this year's "the current state of affairs."

"I've been standing here for two weeks and still haven't sold anything," he said.  

The implementation of this law is sure to further negatively affect these vendors' businesses, with Lebanese taken aback by the risk of facing prosecution for merely expressing their support for a team in a football tournament.

Ryme Al-Hussayni contributed to this report. 

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