The international football governing body FIFA’s taskforce is to put pressure on Qatar to relax its anti-gay legislation ahead of hosting the 2022 World Cup.
Director of Football Against Racism, Piara Powar, who is part of the taskforce, said the issue would be raised in a meeting this week, along with similar concerns about 2018 host, Russia.
“Qatar is one of the few countries where homosexuality is still illegal and there are also big challenges in terms of the new law in Russia in regard to the World Cup,” Powar said.
“Qatar wants to host the tournament at the start of a new decade, they will want to present an internationally welcoming face and with FIFA’s help we are sure it will be possible to win over the Qataris so that they come into line with the rest of the world, including other countries in the Gulf and Middle East and change the law on homosexuality,” he added.
He went on to say that football fans of all sexualities “need to feel comfortable,” when travelling to the tournament.
Since it was announced that the World Cup will take place in Qatar, as well as 2018 in Russia, there has been controversy.
There were calls for a probe into possible corruption at the international football governing body and some media outlets pointed to two countries’ riches in oil and gold.
Russia’s win came on the same day it was denounced by leaked diplomatic cables for being a “corrupt autocracy”.
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and can be punished with lashes and jail, while the Russian capital of Moscow has banned gay Pride marches for years, and more recently Russia introduced federal laws banning the promotion of “non-traditional” relationships to minors, causing an international outcry.
The 2022 World Cup is costing Qatar more than $220bn (£140 billion) to host, and FIFA’s executive committee is to meet in October to make a decision on possibly moving the tournament to winter, as 50 degree heat threatens the safety of players and fans.
Earlier this week former English FA chairman David Bernstein said Qatar should be forced to rebid for the event.