In 2010 FIFA president Sepp Blatter was forced to apologise after trying to brush off concerns that gay football fans would be discriminated against at the World Cup to be hosted by Qatar in 2022. At the time he said that they should simply have to “refrain from any sexual activities” if they wanted to go and watch the tournament. Now the tournament could be facing another controversy.
One of Qatar’s Gulf neighbours has unveiled plans for screening tests to “detect” gay people and stop them entering the region.
The bizarre claim has come from Kuwait, whose public health minister has said that a medical process will be used to identify homosexuals and prevent them from entering any of the Gulf Cooperation Countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Public health director Yousuf Mindkar was quoted in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai, according to Gulf Daily News as saying ” “Health centres conduct routine medical checks to assess the health of expatriates when they come into the GCC countries, however, we 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.”
Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has told the International Business Times that the move would potentially prevent gay players and spectators attending the 2022 World Cup, due to be held in Qatar. “This contradicts previous assurances given to FIFA by the Qatar government that everyone will be welcome and that there will be no discrimination,” he said. “FIFA now has no option but to cancel the world cup in Qatar. Allowing it to go head in these circumstances would involve FIFA colluding with homophobic discrimination.”
FIFA has been quick to respond claiming that it is unaware of the “specific” claim. However it stated that it had a “zero tolerance policy towards any acts of racism and discrimination affecting the freedom of private persons – including their sexual and political freedom”.
They may well wish that they had made a decision on the World Cup hosting rights last week rather than delaying it as this storm will no doubt take a while and a great number of assurances before it blows over.