That’s right, as if the whole prospect of a World Cup in Qatar wasn’t dodgy enough already, the prejudices have started to seep in. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, punishable by prison time, and accordingly their sports minister, Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali addressed the issue as such:
“It’s exactly like the alcohol question.” He said, before moving on to say that his nation doesn’t want to instigate “this impression, illusion that we don’t care about our tradition and our ethical values”
That sounds pretty cast-iron if you ask me. Briefly putting aside the fact that he directly compared alcohol restriction to equal human rights, this isn’t the first time the issue has been raised and mishandled. Late last year the Gulf Cooperation Countries (of which Qatar is a part) announced plans for a sort of ‘Gaydar’ that would be able detect gay people before they entered the country, such that they could immediately be turned away. FIFA themselves haven’t really been much better, Sepp Blatter advised anyone of that persuasion who wants to attend 2022 to do so, but maybe just refrain from having sex whilst they’re in the country. Bravo, Sepp, ever the exemplar for equality.
The part about alcohol refers to the restricted sales of alcohol that usually apply in Qatar. It can be sold in hotels and other controlled environments but most certainly not at sporting events. Mind you, that was the deal in South Africa until FIFA actually had the law overturned just in time for 2010 World Cup. It’s likely they’ll try the same thing again in 2022, but why could they not also use their influence to make life easier for the LGBT community in the process? Please don’t make me answer that question, it’s too depressing.
This unpleasantness only adds to the ever-rising pile of controversy that rests on top of the 2022 Qatar initiative, sitting just above issues of bribery, worker mistreatment and a climate that almost entirely invalidates actually being able to play football at a professional level. Don’t be surprised if the backlash only increases from here on out.
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