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FSA statement: Qatar & LGBT+ supporters

The World Cup is set to kick-off in less than a fortnight yet many LGBT+ fans still feel unable to even consider attending a tournament in a country where homosexuality is criminalised.

Recent comments from Qatar World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman calling homosexuality “forbidden” and “damage in the mind” have done nothing to quell those fears. The host nation consistently says “everyone is welcome” while simultaneously refusing to change its laws on homosexuality or address specific questions on how that will be managed during the tournament.

The FSA has a long track record of challenging these views.

Back in 2010 we asked whether fans should boycott Qatar because of its homophobic laws and we’ve helped set up dozens of LGBT+ fans’ groups in the past few years thanks to the excellent Fans for Diversity. We’ve always been proud supporters of the Playfair Qatar human rights campaign too.

Nevertheless, such has been the reaction to Salman’s comments (and Sepp Blatter’s breathtaking lack of self-awareness), that it seems an opportune moment to put our thoughts on the record again.

STATEMENT – FSA chair Malcolm Clarke said:

The FSA supports the response of the FA and UEFA to the FIFA statement on Qatar, namely that human rights are universal and not matters of ‘politics’ or ‘ideology’, and as such should apply to all football supporters visiting Qatar and all those who live there.

There is a Qatari assurance that all football supporters will be welcomed, and that promise has to be met, regardless of sexual orientation or gender. It should be a source of deep shame to FIFA that the understandable worry about this has deterred some LGBT+ supporters from following their country at the World Cup.

We will have our Fans’ Embassy teams on the ground in Qatar to provide support and advice to all England and Wales fans. They will regularly report back with honesty and objectivity on the experience of all fans attending the tournament.

Looking forward, we call upon FIFA to state explicitly that any country which criminalises homosexuality will be regarded as being in breach of FIFA’s human rights standards and therefore ineligible to apply to host future finals.

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