Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, has dismissed concerns that Qatar is unsuitable to host the 2022 World Cup because of its attitude to homosexuality saying that gay football fans should refrain from having homsexual sex while in the country.
The tiny country punishes homosexuality with up to five years in prison or lashes. Last week, gay football groups said gay fans would be unable to travel to the Qatar for the games because of its oppressive laws.
The Gay Football Supporters’ Network said it would boycott all activities related to the 2022 World Cup, although LGBTory suggested that the attention on the country could persuade it to become more tolerant.
The FIFA president was speaking in Johannesburg at a post-2010 World Cup legacy project launch.
When asked about gay football fans visiting Qatar, he is said to have joked: “I would say they should refrain from any sexual activities.”
But he added: “We are definitely living in a world of freedom and I’m sure when the World Cup will be in Qatar in 2022, there will be no problems.
“You see in the Middle East the opening of this culture, it’s another culture because it’s another religion, but in football we have no boundaries.”
According to Press Association, he continued: “We open everything to everybody and I think there shall not be any discrimination against any human beings be it on this side or that side, be it left, right or whatever.”
He added: “If they want to watch a match somewhere in Qatar 2022, I’m sure they will be admitted to such matches.”
Mr Blatter said that there was “too much concern for a competition that will be done only in 12 years”.
“But this gives me the opportunity to say that in FIFA, and this is in the statutes of FIFA, whether it is in politics, whether it is in religion, we don’t want racism, and we know what this means, and neither do we want discrimination,” he said.
“What we want is just to open this game to everybody and open it to all cultures and this is what we are doing in 2022.”