FIFA’s shame, collusion with authoritarian governments

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has slammed FIFA, accusing it of “rewarding tyranny”, after its decision to award the next two football world cups to Russia and Qatar respectively:

“Awarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Qatar and Russia is a big mistake. Both countries have poor human rights records. They restrict freedom of expression, the right to protest and press freedom. Journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders are often victimised.

Russia and Qatar also deny equality and human rights to their LGBT citizens.

“Qatar punishes homosexuality with imprisonment and lashes. It treats women as second class citizens. Russia has banned Gay Pride marches for many years and does not protect LGBT people against discrimination in employment and housing.

“Gay players, coaches, referees and fans could be at risk of arrest or violence at the 2018 or 2022 matches. Giving the World Cup to these two harshly homophobic countries is an insult to LGBT people everywhere. It alienates and excludes.

“FIFA has decided that sport should come before human rights. It has rewarded two countries that violate international humanitarian values. This sends the wrong signal.

“Sport should never be allowed to trump human rights. FIFA has put corporate and geo-political interests before the rights and welfare of the people of Russia and Qatar,” said Mr Tatchell.