Qatar FIFA World Cup ambassador says homosexuality is ‘damage in the mind’



CNN

Qatar FIFA World Cup ambassador and former soccer player Khalid Salman has said that homosexuality is “harm in the mind,” in an interview with German broadcaster ZDF on Monday.

The interview, filmed in Doha less than two weeks before the start of the tournament, was immediately stopped by an official from the World Cup organizing committee.

During the interview, Salman discussed the issue of homosexuality being illegal in Qatar.

Salman told ZDF that being gay is “haram,” which means forbidden according to Islamic law. “It’s damage in the mind,” said Salman.

Since many people are expected to travel to Qatar for the World Cup, “let’s talk about gays,” Salman said.

“The most important thing is that everyone will accept that they are coming here. But they will have to accept our rules,” he said, adding that he was worried that children might learn “something that is not good.”

Qataris gather in Doha's traditional Souq Waqif market as the official 2022 World Cup logo is projected onto a building in September 2019.

Salman was a football player from Qatar in the 1980s and 1990s.

He took part in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and has been chosen as one of the ambassadors of the country hosting the tournament.

Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup from November 20 to December 18.

His comments drew sharp criticism from human rights activist Rasha Younes, senior LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, who called Salman’s comments “harmful and unacceptable.”

“The failure of the Qatari government to counter this false information has had a significant impact on the lives of Qatar’s #LGBT residents,” he said on Twitter.

This comes as the awarding of the football tournament to Qatar has been heavily criticized due to the human rights situation in the Gulf state and the way foreign workers are treated.

Earlier this month, world football’s governing body FIFA urged the nations taking part in the 2022 World Cup to focus on football when the tournament begins.

FIFA confirmed to CNN that a letter signed by FIFA President Gianni Infantino and the governing body’s secretary general, Fatma Samoura, had been sent to 32 nations taking part in Thursday’s global showpiece but would not disclose the content.

“If Gianni Infantino wants the world to ‘focus on the football’, there is a simple answer: FIFA could finally start addressing the serious human rights issues rather than brushing them off under the carpet,” said Steve Cockburn, Head of Economic and Social Justice Amnesty International.

“The first step would be to publicly commit to establishing a fund to compensate migrant workers before the tournament starts and ensure that LGBT people do not face discrimination or harassment. It’s amazing they still haven’t.

“Gianni Infantino is right to say that ‘football does not exist in a vacuum.’ Hundreds of thousands of workers have faced abuse to make this tournament possible and their rights cannot be forgotten or disregarded.

The countdown clock for the World Cup during the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar on December 15, 2021 in Doha.

“They deserve justice and compensation, not empty words, and time is running out.”

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