Rainbow flags will be allowed in stadiums at the 2022 World Cup after Qatar said it would comply with FIFA rules promoting tolerance and inclusion at matches despite the Arab country’s strict anti-LGBTQ laws.
With less than two years until the tournament, though, concerns persist about the treatment facing gay fans in Qatar due the conservative religious code prohibiting same-sex relations that conflict with FIFA’s stance against homophobia.
FIFA said it was determined to push Qatar on staging a “tournament that is inclusive” when the World Cup heads to the Middle East for the first time.
“I’m an openly gay woman in football, so this is personally, to me, something I’m close to as well,” FIFA’s chief social responsibility and education officer Joyce Cook said.
“We will see a progressive change in all of those aspects and rainbow flags, t-shirts will all be welcome in the stadium that’s a given”
Qatar’s World Cup leadership has offered FIFA the assurances that displays promoting LGBTQ rights will not be removed.
“When it comes to the rainbow flags in the stadiums, FIFA have their own guidelines, they have their rules and regulations,” 2022 World Cup chief executive Nasser Al-Khater said. “Whatever they may be, we will respect them.”
The United States State Department’s most recent human rights report on Qatar highlighted how LGBTQ people there “largely hid their sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex characteristics due to an underlying pattern of discrimination.”
Ahead of the staging Club World Cup last year, Qatar brought a member of Liverpool’s “Kop Outs” supporters’ group and his husband to the country to offer assurances that gay fans, would be welcome.
“We have a country that’s conservative, however we are a welcoming country,” Al-Khater added. “We are open and welcoming — hospitable. We understand the difference in people’s cultures. We understand the difference in people’s beliefs and so I think, again, everybody will be welcome and everybody will be treated with respect.