LGBTQ+ supporter groups have joined forces to condemn FIFA and the Qatar World Cup Supreme Committee for their failure to reassure members of the community over their safety travelling to the tournament.
The decision to award this year’s tournament to Qatar has faced heavy criticism due to the country’s human rights record.
Male homosexuality is punishable by a prison sentence, same-sex marriages are not recognised by the government and women’s rights are much tighter than in some other parts of the world.
Organisers have attempted to ease concerns about the safety of LGBTQ+ fans travelling to the Middle East country for the winter tournament.
But they appear to have failed as, on the day of the tournament’s draw, eight LGBTQ+ fan groups hit out at the Supreme Committee for the ‘little effort’ they have put in to address the concerns raised.
The group includes England’s LGBTQ+ fan group Three Lions Pride, Football Supporters Europe, Independent Supporters Council North America and Wales’ Rainbow Wall.
Europe’s Queer Football Fanclubs, ADO Den Haag’s Rose Regahs, Supporters against Homophobia Norway and the UK’s Pride in Football also joined the quartet.
The groups penned a joint open letter to condemn FIFA and Qatar for their failure to prove that members of the community will be safe travelling to the tournament, insisting it is ‘not good enough’.
LGBTQ+ supporter groups have joined forces to condemn FIFA and the Qatar World Cup Supreme Committee
Concerns have been raised over the safety of members of the LGBTQ+ community at the tournament
Their joint statement read: ‘Over the past 18 months, we tried to engage with FIFA and the Qatar Supreme Committee (‘SC’) ahead of the World Cup in November and December 2022.
‘Our aims were simple: To gain concrete assurances and examples of how LGBT+ fans, players, journalists and staff would be protected in a country that criminalises their existence; To raise concerns regarding human rights in Qatar; To shine a light on the plight of LGBT+ Qataris and those living in Qatar.
‘A founding principle of our group is that we should be able to follow our team as our authentic selves wherever we play in the world without fear for our safety and with freedom from persecution.
‘The arguments about whether Qatar should be hosting a World Cup have been well documented.
The eight groups, including England’s Three Lions Pride, penned a joint open letter
‘In our conversations with both FIFA and the SC, there has been little effort from organisers to proactively engage around the concerns fans and rights groups have raised.
‘Instead, we have often heard the well drummed PR line that ‘this is a World Cup for all’.
‘Human rights deserve detail not deflection, but all we have unfortunately seen from those in charge is slogans not safety, gaslighting not guarantees, avoidance not action. Simply put, this is not good enough.’
The group have hit back at claims it will be a ‘World Cup for all’ and accused organisers of not taking their concerns seriously in what they described as a ‘broken process’.
‘We cannot, in good faith, tell our members, LGBT+ people or allies that this is a World Cup for all,’ the statement continued.
‘We have seen no details about how our trans+ members will be treated with respect through security checks. We have heard no specifics on guarantees that LGBT+ people (fans or residents) will not be arrested for their existence.
The group said they have seen no details about how trans+ members will be treated through security checks
‘We have witnessed a complete disregard for fans throughout this broken process – it is clear that fans’ voices, especially from minority groups, are not taken seriously by FIFA and the SC.
‘We are the backbone of the game – listen to us, especially when we are trying to make football a better environment for all.
‘Our questions and concerns are separate to the moral debate on whether LGBT+ fans should attend, and our work will continue after this statement, after this World Cup. We will be heard, we will be seen, we will not be going anywhere.’
The group called on FIFA and the Supreme Committee to ‘uphold their end of the bargain’ and insisted they will continue to push to be heard.
‘This tournament needs to be safe for travelling fans who decide to go but must also create a positive legacy for LGBT+ people in Qatar,’ the statement added.
‘To this end, we will continue working with other stakeholders and governing bodies to express these concerns and help shape a more equal and inclusive future for football.
‘Change requires both sides to work together — we hope that FIFA and the SC will uphold their end of the bargain. That said, our aims remain the same, and we will pursue them with or without their input.
‘We will continue to push and are hoping that we will be heard and that we can make change together. But it needs two parties to do so and a genuine commitment for change from the organisers and governing bodies as well.’
England boss Gareth Southgate has previously voiced concerns over suitability of Qatar
England boss Gareth Southgate has previously voiced concerns over suitability of Qatar as hosts.
Southgate said it is a ‘great shame’ that sections of England supporters will not travel to Qatar for the World Cup this winter and stressed that no one is ‘complacent’ about the issues involved.
Ahead of their friendlies over the international break, Southgate hosted a meeting with the current England squad, discussing the ongoing challenges in Qatar and opening a dialogue on how England could show their opposition.
The Three Lions manager travelled to Qatar for Friday’s World Cup draw where England discovered they will face the USA, Iran and one of either Wales, Scotland or Ukraine.
The outcome of Friday’s draw for the 2022 World Cup which starts in November