FIFA PRESIDENT SEPP BLATTER has insisted that Qatar’s strict anti-homosexuality laws will not have major implications for the World Cup there in 2022 – but has ‘jokingly’ told gay fans they should refrain from any sexual activity.
Speaking in Johannesburg at the official closing of the 2010 World Cup, Blatter said his association was “living in a world of freedom” and said he anticipated that the Middle East be “opening to this culture”.
Before local press had begun filming his response, Blatter said gay football fans should be respectful of local traditions and values, and that in order to avoid conflict, “I would say they should refrain from any sexual activities.”
Shirking off the comment as a joke, however, he went on:
In football, we have no boundaries… we open everything to everybody. I think there should not be any discrimination against any human being on this side or that side, left or right, whatever.
Football is a game that does not effect any discrimination and we don’t want to have any discrimination… it’s another culture because it’s another religion, but in football we have no boundaries. [...]
If they [gay people] want to watch a match in Qatar in 2022, I’m sure they will be admitted to such matches.
Blatter had spent most of the press conference defending the decisions of FIFA’s executive committee to award Russia and Qatar the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, and was forced to take a firm stance that the decisions were not motivated by money.
“This is development of football and don’t speak about money,” he said. “This has nothing to do with money as it had nothing to [do with it] with Africa. It is the development of the game. We have to take to places where it can improve and have a social and cultural impact.”