Sepp Blatter steps down as FIFA boss
Sepp Blatter, who previously apologised after saying gay people worried about persecution at the Qatar 2022 World Cup should just not have sex, has stepped down as the president of FIFA.
After winning the FIFA presidential election on Friday, Blatter today said he would step down upon appointment of his replacement.
Blatter has been seen by many LGBT advocates as an obstacle when it comes to challenging homophobia and transphobia in football.
He said: “The next congress of FIFA is on May 13 in Mexico and if we waited until then it will only delay matters. I will ask the organising executive committee to organise extraordinary congress to elect a successor.
“The procedure is to be carried out in accordance within FIFA statutes and sufficient time allocated to find best possible candidates. I will not stand I am free from the constraints of an election.”
The 79-year-old quit amid a corruption scandal surrounding the global football governing body.
“I felt compelled to stand for re-election, as I believed that this was the best thing for the organisation.
“That election is over but FIFA’s challenges are not. FIFA needs a profound overhaul,” he went on.
In 2010, he dismissed concerns that Qatar is homophobic, despite laws punishing gay sex with up to five years in prison.
When asked about gay football fans visiting Qatar, he said: “I would say they should refrain from any sexual activities.”
He later apologised.
The country, notorious for its anti-gay laws, was last year cleared to host the 2022 World Cup by football’s governing body.
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An ethics committee investigation by FIFA into the bidding process effectively confirmed Qatar and Russia as 2022 and 2018 hosts respectively, stating any rule breaches by the bidding countries were “of very limited scope”.
Qatar faced a number of corruption claims surrounding its bid, but the Gulf state is now in the clear.
Out gay former Leeds Utd footballer Robbie Rogers in January spoke out about upcoming World Cups in Qatar and Russia, saying it is “insane” that they are being held there, given their poor records on LGBT rights.
LGBT rights groups in 2010 said they were “deeply concerned” by FIFA’s decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.
FIFA in 2013 announced its intention to put pressure on Qatar to relax its anti-gay legislation ahead of hosting the 2022 event.
The head of the women’s England football team Casey Stoney said she would not attend Qatar because gay people are not welcome there.