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01st Dec 2021

Qatar World Cup chief executive claims LGBTQ community will be ‘welcome’ at tournament

Callum Boyle

The country has repeatedly been condemned for its views on homosexuality and human rights record

The chief executive of the Qatar World Cup has claimed that the LGTBQ community will be welcome at next year’s tournament, despite the country’s laws against homosexuality, reports the Guardian.

It comes after Australian footballer Josh Cavallo – who last month became the first male top-flight professional footballer to publicly come out as gay – admitted that he would be ‘scared’ to play if called up to feature at the tournament for his national side.

He said: “I read something along the lines of that [they] give the death penalty for gay people in Qatar, so it’s something I’m very scared [of] and wouldn’t really want to go to Qatar for that.”

Cavallo received an unwavering amount of support from several stars, with many others also expressing their concern that Qatar – a country where homosexuality is considered illegal and is even punishable by the death penalty – was given the chance to host football’s biggest competition.

Added with the country’s alleged poor human rights records and the accounts of migrant workers who have helped build the World Cup , many have raised concerns with the tournament’s kick-off now less than a year away.

But the chief executive for the 2022 World Cup, Nasser Al Khater, has reiterated that Qatar will welcome Cavallo and anybody who plans to travel next year and even offered a chance for the Australian to speak to him.

“We welcome him [Cavallo] here in the state of Qatar, we welcome him to come and see, even prior to the World Cup,” he told CNN.

“I think, unfortunately, maybe he’s getting this perception because of reading a lot of these accusations or reading a lot of these news stories that shine a negative light. Qatar is like any other society in this world. Everyone is welcome.”

However, Al Khater’s next comments contradicted the idea that everyone would be welcome, insisting that any form of public affection would be disapproved.

“Listen, public display of affection is frowned upon, and that goes across the board – across the board,” he said.

“Qatar is a modest country. That’s all that needs to be respected. Other than that, everyone is free to live their life.

“They will be coming to Qatar as fans of a football tournament. They can do whatever any other human being would do. What I’m saying is Qatar, from a public-display-of-affection factor, is conservative.”

As per the Guardian, a report compiled by LGBT travellers back in 2019 ranked Qatar as the second-most dangerous place to travel fort the LGBTQ community.

Stuttgart sporting director Thomas Hitzlsperger is one of those who doesn’t believe Qatar will change their views despite their attempts to convince that they are a nation for everybody, saying that his “hope for improvement is limited.”

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