Qatar Sports Minister Says He Probably Won't Imprison Gay Soccer Fans

Illustration for article titled Qatar Sports Minister Says He Probably Won't Imprison Gay Soccer Fans

It's hard to keep track of all the reasons it's so fucked up that FIFA decided to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, so here's one you might not have been aware of: It is illegal to be gay in Qatar, and the country's sports minister isn't willing to give anyone a straight answer on whether gay people will be welcome at the World Cup.


Sports minister Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali sat down with the AP and gave a bunch of canned answers about all the terrible things associated with the 2022 World Cup. At one point, he was asked if alcohol, which is also illegal in Qatar, will be served at the games:

Al Ali said "creative" solutions can be found to allow alcohol sales to visiting World Cup fans. For now, alcohol is only sold in selected Doha hotels and visitors must show their passports to enter these bars. Residents with a license to shop there can also buy alcohol in a government-run store. But World Cup organizer FIFA has a sponsorship deal with a brewer and it leaned on Brazil, the last tournament host, to allow beer sales in its 2014 World Cup stadiums. Asked specifically about alcohol in 2022 stadiums, the minister offered no guarantee.

"In the hotels and many areas we have alcohol but we have also our own system that people need to respect," he said. "As we bid for 2022, we will respect all the rules and regulations by FIFA. We can study this and minimize the impact on our people and tradition. I think we can be creative, finding solutions for all of this. But we respect all the rules and regulations."

And that led right into the question of how gay people will be welcomed:

Asked how gay people will be welcomed in 2022, al-Ali replied: "It's exactly like the alcohol question."

He said Qatar doesn't want to create "this impression, illusion that we don't care about our tradition and our ethical values ... We are studying all these issues. We can adapt, we can be creative to have people coming and enjoying the games without losing the essence of our culture and respecting the preference of the people coming here. I think there is a lot we can do."

Ignore the answer, and just consider the fact that in this guy's mind, the question "Will our country respect the human rights of gay people?" is one that needs no deeper consideration than "How are we going to let people drink beer so that FIFA can accommodate its corporate sponsors?" This whole thing is a nightmare.