A gay rights group has demanded an apology from Sepp Blatter after the FIFA chief’s joke about homosexual football fans.
During a press conference yesterday Blatter was responding to concerns about World Cup 2022 host Qatar’s attitude to homosexuality – a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.
The 74-year-old Swiss joked that gay people should “refrain from any sexual activities” when the World Cup is hosted in the tiny Gulf state.
His comments have been criticised by the Gay Football Supporters’ Network which to campaigns promote the support and participation of gay men and women in football.
The GFSN criticised FIFA last week for awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar considering its treatment towards the gay community.
Chris Basiurski, chair of the GFSN says: “Many LGBT people live in countries where they would face execution or imprisonment if discovered, these people deserve our help, our respect and our support.
“They, like the rest of us, do not deserve to be laughed at. Mr. Blatter should retract his remarks and apologise immediately. Otherwise, he should reconsider his position and resign.
“He says that football is ‘everything for everyone’ but he has not yet explained just how FIFA is going to ensure that LGBT football players and supporters will be welcome in Qatar.”
In yesterday’s press conference, Blatter later added: “We are definitely living in a world of freedom and I’m sure when the World Cup will be in Qatar in 2022, there will be no problems.
“You see in the Middle East the opening of this culture, it’s another culture because it’s another religion, but in football we have no boundaries.
“We open everything to everybody and I think there shall not be any discrimination against any human beings be it on this side or that side, be it left, right or whatever.”
Mr Basiurski added: “Mr. Blatter is naive to think that by taking the beautiful game to Qatar, it will bring an end to discrimination in the Middle East.”