Qatar World Cup ambassador makes anti-LGBTQ+ comments weeks before tournament kicks off

Khalid Salman's remarks come at the same time that England manager Gareth Southgate has encouraged gay footballers to come out.

Qatar World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman talking with a journalist.
Image: Twitter: @sportstudio

Khalid Salman, a Qatar World Cup ambassador, has made anti-LGBTQ+ comments publicly less than two weeks before the 2022 tournament is due to commence. 

German television broadcaster ZDF published an interview snippet from Doha online, in which Salman said that those travelling to the Gulf Nation for the event “have to accept our rules here”. The former Qatar international footballer added that “[Homosexuality] is haram,” and when asked why, he explained: “I am not a strict Muslim but why is it haram? Because it is damage in the mind.”

The conversation was immediately cut off then by an accompanying press official, and the full interview is available to view as part of the organisation’s documentary Qatar Secret. When contacted by Reuters about the remarks made by the ambassador, Qatar World Cup organisers declined to comment, and similarly, FIFA did not immediately respond.

The competition has been the centre of much controversy, hugely due to the host country’s treatment of migrant workers and queer people. Although officials have maintained that everyone is welcome at this year’s tournament, LGBTQ+ still feel unsafe travelling to Qatar where homosexuality is criminalised and punishable by time in prison and even death under Sharia law.

Salman’s comments come at the same time that England manager Gareth Southgate has encouraged gay footballers to come out. Speaking to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the former player said: “The teams and players wouldn’t have any problem with it. They would accept and embrace their teammates after coming out.

“But footballers are afraid of the reactions outside and from the fans,” he added.

“European teams have never been as tolerant, multicultural and multi-religious as they are today. Of course, there will always be homophobes on the outside. But I hope gay players come out soon because it would have an enormous impact on society.”

Harry Kane, captain of Southgate’s England squad, is set to wear the OneLove armband throughout the 2022 World Cup to showcase support for the LGBTQ+ community. Other teams are taking similar action, and alongside this, many spectators and prominent footballing figures have announced that they will be boycotting the tournament which takes place from November 20 to December 18.

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