Tuesday, December 14, 2010

FIFA to Condone Anti-Gay Discrimination

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the selection of Qatar as the location of the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament, mostly centered on the fact that some of the judges of the selection panel may have accepted bribes before voting for Qatar.

But here’s another problem with choosing Qatar as the sight for an international sporting event: homosexual acts are punishable in the country by a five-year prison sentence.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has acknowledged that this could put a damper on the community spirit of the World Cup, saying that that gay fans attending the games "should refrain from any sexual activities" that are illegal in Qatar – those being sexual relations between gay, consenting adults.

Blatter added:

"It's another culture and another religion, but in football we have no boundaries. We open everything to everybody and I think there shall not be any discrimination against any human beings, being on this side or that side, left or right or whatever.

Football is a game that does not affect any discrimination. You may be assured ... if people want to watch a match in Qatar in 2022, they will be admitted to matches."

Blatter does not understand the problem: the issue is not with whether gay people will be allowed into the stadium to watch the games. The issue is whether these gay people will be allowed to actually live their lives – as openly gay men and women – while in Qatar for the games.

Blatter expresses, quite clearly, that FIFA does not agree with the discriminatory behavior embedded into Qatar’s legal system; that is encouraging. However, by selecting a country that promotes anti-gay policies as the sight of the 2022 World Cup, FIFA is condoning this discrimination.  It would be a bold and brilliant statement for FIFA to only select countries where homosexuality is legal: even better if gays are treated at least somewhat equally there.

If FIFA wants to make sure that all players and fans of soccer feel welcome at the World Cup, it must ensure that it selects countries that are accepting of everyone, regardless of sexuality.

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