The 2022 FIFA World Cup is all set to be held in Qatar in November-December this year. Fans from across the globe will be visiting the Arabian country to witness the best footballing action irrespective of their caste, race, religion, and gender. This also poses a great challenge for the organizers to smoothly conduct the tournament.
As the host country, Qatar operates under a strict Sharia Law, there are multiple restrictions on practices that fans can carry out during their visit to stadiums. For example, a few reports claimed that extramarital sex will not be allowed during the course of the tournament and if found guilty, fans can land in prison as well.
The country in the Middle East is also quite conservative about homosexuality which poses a threat to the safety and security of LGBTQ+ fans. According to the Human Dignity Trust, homosexual activity in Qatar can carry a punishment of up to seven years in prison. These strict rules about such practices have raised serious concerns and the officials have not clearly answered questions in that regard.
British newspaper The Guardian in a report claimed that it posed a number of questions to the Supreme Committee, the body that organizes the tournament. The queries mainly centered around what rights LGBTQ+ fans would receive in Qatar, as well as if rainbow flags would be allowed into stadiums.
A general reply to the publication’s enquiry stated, “Everyone will be welcome to Qatar in 2022, regardless of their race, background, religion, gender, sexual orientation or nationality. We are a relatively conservative society – for example, public displays of affection are not a part of our culture. We believe in mutual respect and so whilst everyone is welcome, what we expect in return is for everyone to respect our culture and traditions.”
This answer from the committee has not sit really well with the fans. Anne Lieberman, a founding member of the LGBTIQ Human Rights Sports Coalition has also expressed concerns over unclarity about the safety of the community. “This quite clearly suggests to us that LGBTIQ people, whatever their role, will not be protected from the state and its repressive anti-LGBTIQ legislation, or from other potential risks to their safety,” Lieberman said.