An ambassador for the World Cup in Qatar has described homosexuality in an interview with German broadcaster ZDF as “damage to the mind”.
The comments come just two weeks before the World Cup kicks off in the Gulf state and raise further concerns about human rights and the treatment of LGBTQ+ people in the country.
Former Qatari international Khalid Salman told a German reporter: [Homosexuality] is haram. you know what haram [forbidden] resources?
“During the World Cup a lot of things will come to the country. Let’s talk about gays: the most important thing is that everyone will accept that they come here, but they will have to accept our rules.”
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar under Islamic Sharia.
Fragments of the television interview were shown on Monday, while the full interview, which is part of a documentary, will be shown on ZDF next Tuesday.
Sky Sports News has contacted FIFA for comment.
German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser condemned Salman’s comments on Tuesday: “Of course such comments are appalling, and that is why we in Qatar are working on things to hopefully improve.”
About 1.2 million international visitors are expected in Qatar for the tournament, which has faced criticism and skepticism since the gas-rich state was chosen as host by FIFA in December 2010.
The interview was cut short by a media official from the World Cup organizing committee after Salman expressed his views on homosexuals, ZDF reported.
Faeser, who is also responsible for sports, said the country’s prime minister had given her a guarantee of safety to fans, wherever they come from, who they love and what they believe in, when she visited Qatar a week ago.
Faeser claims there has been no change in that attitude from the prime minister, who is also Qatar’s interior minister, and plans to attend the opening match of the World Cup against Japan in person.
Last month, the German ambassador to the Gulf state was summoned by the government of Qatar after Faeser appeared to criticize the country for his human rights record.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price called the Qatari official’s comments a major concern: “We have a relationship with Qatar that allows us to discuss our areas of mutual interest, but it also allows us to state to discuss what is important with the United States and values of tolerance, diversity, of respecting all people, no matter who they are or who they love. I suspect we will address that directly.”
Sepp Blatter has admitted the decision to award the World Cup to Qatar when he was FIFA president was a “mistake”.
The build-up to this year’s World Cup has been dogged by concerns over the suffering of low-paid migrant workers to build infrastructure in tiny Gulf states and discriminatory laws criminalizing same-sex relationships.
Blatter, 86, headed FIFA in 2010, when the executive committee controversially voted for the World Cup to be held in Russia and Qatar in 2018 and 2022 respectively. Blatter claims he did not vote for Qatar and instead wanted a “gesture of peace” by hosting the two tournaments in Russia and then the US.
“The choice for Qatar was a mistake,” Blatter said in an interview with the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeigerhis first since he was acquitted of fraud in July after a £1.7 million payment to former UEFA president Michel Platini.
“At the time, we agreed in the executive committee that Russia would have the 2018 World Cup and the US that of 2022. It would have been a gesture of peace if the two long-standing political opponents won the World Cup one after the other.
“It is too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that.”
The Qatar World Cup, which had to be moved to November and December due to the heat, is now just two weeks away and Blatter accepts that he is responsible for the tournament taking place there.
“I can only repeat: the award to Qatar was a mistake, and I was responsible for that as president at the time,” he said.
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