FIFA ought to show more concern about ‘homophobic’ World Cup in Qatar

The Gulf states are to conduct medical tests in an attempt to 'detect' and deter homosexuals from entering the region, according to a senior official of the Kuwaiti health ministry.

The Gulf states are to conduct medical tests in an attempt to ‘detect’ and deter homosexuals from entering the region, according to a senior official of the Kuwaiti health ministry.

Speaking to Kuwaiti local daily paper Al Rai, the director of public health at the Kuwaiti health ministry said yesterday that whilst medical centres already conduct tests to assess the health of those entering Kuwait, they will “take stricter measures that will help us detect gays who will be then barred from entering Kuwait or any of the GCC member states”.

What form these procedures will take is unclear. What is clear, however, is that any sort of ‘test’ will be a gross violation of the human rights of the person on the receiving end. And if it matters, there are also no know tests which detect homosexuality anyway.

According to human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, the proposal will mean that gay players and spectators will essentially banned from attending the football world cup in Qatar in 2022.

Astonishingly, FIFA said yesterday that they were “not aware of the specific matter” of the proposed legislation.

Well they are now.

The football authorities are increasingly swift to act over incidents of racism – as they ought to be – yet when it comes to a person’s sexuality they seem almost totally disinterested. Not only in this instance, but more generally: a recent anti-homophobia campaign in the English Premier League saw only 29 of 92 professional clubs in England sign up.

Can you imagine a World Cup being staged in a region where black people were systematically discriminated against by the authorities like this? I should hope not, and can I see no reason why gay people should have to put up with a similar level of discrimination.

This all raises major question as to why Qatar was ever awarded the World Cup in the first place. As the below map shows (click to zoom), the region is one of the worst places in the world in terms of gay rights, with the death penalty being used against homosexuals in several countries.

Homosexuality map

The sorts of anti-gay practices we are now witnessing should have been foreseen by FIFA before Qatar was even considered for the World Cup. The fact that they were not makes decisive action now even more important. For, as Peter Tatchell has pointed out, allowing the World Cup to go head in these circumstances would involve collusion with homophobic discrimination. That would also mean the collusion of our sporting representatives, the England football team.

Talk of a separation between sport and politics won’t wash in this case. Everything will not be fine if we simply repeat the magic word ‘football’ enough times. This is bigotry, and if the World Cup goes ahead under current conditions participating countries will be colluding in that bigotry.

It’s about time our footballing authorities stopped pretending that there can ever be a complete seperation of sport and politics. It’s about time they took responsibility.

Update ————————————————

Astonishingly, a senior official has today said that the health and safety of players and supporters may be at risk in Qatar if the World Cup goes ahead because of…the weather.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.