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Rainbow flags will be allowed in stadiums at the 2022 World Cup as Qatar said anti-LGBTQ laws would not be enforced at matches to comply with FIFA regulations promoting tolerance and inclusion.
With less than two years until the tournament, though, concerns persist about the treatment facing gay fans in Qatar due to 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 chief social responsibility and education officer Joyce Cook told The Associated Press.
“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. They understand very well that is our stance.”
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 guidelines, they have their rules and regulations,” 2022 World Cup chief executive Nasser Al-Khater told the AP.
“Whatever they may be, we will respect them.”
The US State Department’s most recent human rights report on Qatar highlights how LGBTQ people there largely hid their sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex characteristics because of 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 are a conservative country. However, we are a welcoming country,” Al-Khater said from Doha.
“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 we will treat everybody with respect.”
“Just like our culture is a culture of this world, we also expect people to respect our culture. I think there’s a balance and there’s a feeling that people will respect people from everywhere.”