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Do We Play For Duty Or Honour? : The FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup, taking place in Qatar, has raised major controversy. This controversy ranges from banned alcohol usage, Qatar’s human rights and the countries attitude towards the LGBTQIA+ community. This article aims to illustrate Qatar’s archaic attitudes towards this movement, the reaction from FIFA, the United Kingdom’s football team, and other bodies.

On the 21st of November, just one day ago now, avid football fans were sat in pubs, a cold pint in one hand and the other clenched, a fist. Their eyes strained from watching the game closely. Part-finished conversations, silence every time Buyako Saka has the ball. Half-time came with a roar, and as I walked past our local pub, ‘Sweet Caroline’ was already being sung. Seemingly, we had secured a victory.

Despite the spirit Britons display during football season, for some, this spirit has been overshadowed by Qatar’s institutionalized archaic laws imposed upon the LGBTQIA+ community.

 In Qatar, homosexuality and sodomy are illegal. These attitudes and cultural norms are supported by a report published in October 2022 by The Human Rights Watch. The Human Rights Watch  found that there have been systematic eye-witness reports of police brutality towards the LGBTQIA+ community from 2019-2022. During the World Cup, Qatar insists that these laws be upheld and respected. Although the country have revoked the usual punishments of these acts which typically include a fine, prison sentence and a possible death penalty.

The host country has claimed to allow spectators into the country despite their sexual orientation. Furthermore, FIFA assured fans they may demonstrate their support for the marginalized community. Although, upon arrival, spectators were refused entry if they were displaying support for the LGBTQIA+ community. This includes spectators wearing rainbow bucket hats or tops. Later, FIFA’s decision was revoked. Therefore, there is no warm welcome for people who are a part of the community, or allies. According to Eurosport, Khalid Salman, a FIFA Ambassador, goes so far to describe homosexuality as “damage in the mind.”

Gareth Southgate, the Three Lions Manager, has stated that now these rules have been imposed, he “wants to focus on football.” The Mail Online has also confirmed Harry Redknapp’s, an ex-footballer, statement that “If you feel that strongly don’t play or don’t go.”

Furthermore, the Three Lions have had a disappointing response to both Qatar’s laws and FIFA’s overturned guidelines. The International Business Times notes that, Harry Kane, the team captain, bent the knee to Qarter’s laws by removing his ‘OneLove’ armband. This was to avoid the possibility of getting a yellow card, which could transpire into less bookings for the Team. By extension, FIFA has demonstrated that those who show their support for the LGBTQIA+ community will be met with a penalisation.

There has been backlash from members of the LGBTQIA+ community, in response to the Three Lions approach. This is represented succinctly in Luke Pollard, a UK Labour member of Parliament. Pink News, an LGBTQIA+ online community outline Pollards protest. Pollard stated that, “I declare an interest as a massive gay, but as an England-supporting homosexual it is not safe for someone like me to watch the World Cup in Qatar. Because of the human rights abuses of migrant workers and Qatar’s LGBT(QIA+) population, I personally, don’t think Qatar should ever have been awarded a major sporting competition.” Furthermore, Gary Linkeker, an ex-professional footballer, uses BBC News as a platform to “report not support” the game, as he considers Qatar “the smallest nation to host the world cup.” Perhaps, in more ways than one.

In conclusion, this article has outlined the controversy surrounding the FIFA World Cup. The football teams have become submissive to the discriminatory laws imposed upon them. This has led to a lack of support for minority groups. The Red Lions, among six other nations, have removed their support for the LGBTQIA+. Unfortunately, this has led to further discrimination within an already marginalized group.



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