By Nick Harris
6 December 2010
An anti-homophobia group that campaigns for equality in football has criticised the decision of Fifa’s executive committee to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, a nation where homosexuality is a crime that can carry a five-year prison term. That sanction is not theoretical – Qatar has had cases of people being sent down, and / or suffering lashes after being caught engaging in ‘homosexual activity’.
The Gay Football Supporters Network is “shocked” at the decision to hand Qatar the 2022 event and will encourage a boycott all activities related to that event.
“We strongly condemn Fifa’s decision and will be leading a LGBT boycott of all activities associated with World Cup 2022,” says the group on its website. “We do not feel the World Cup should be held in any country that abuses and disregards the basic human rights of LGBT people.
“Fifa president Sepp Blatter talks of his wish for inclusivity and to bring the game to the whole world. By holding the competition in Qatar he is alienating the millions of LGBT football fans around the globe who will feel unwelcome in a homophobic country where they can be arrested just for being themselves.”
Ed Connell, the GFSN campaigns officer, adds: “We are deeply concerned with Fifa’s decision to appoint Qatar as the host nation for the 2022 World Cup. The LGBT community is unlikely to want to attend football’s greatest tournament in a country where homosexuals can be imprisoned for up to 5 years.
“With Fifa’s failure to condemn the recent homophobic remarks of the Croatian [FA president] followed swiftly by their decision to award Qatar the World Cup, it is clear that there is still much progress to be made before football really is for all.”