FIFA has been doing its darndest to make sure fans can drink plenty of Budweiser during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The global soccer governing body might want to do a little more to ensure all fans are actually able to attend the tournament in person.
Despite FIFA’s promises to make the Qatar World Cup inclusive for all, a recent report made it clear LGBTQ+ people will have a hard time finding lodging. Scandinavian outlet SVT released a damning report highlighting how homosexuality will not be tolerated in Qatar. A third of the hotels listed on FIFA’s World Cup website do not want same-sex couples to stay in them, including three hotels outright saying no gays allowed, according to the report.
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, punishable by up to seven years in prison. The country has claimed it will not discriminate during the World Cup, but those promises have been less than convincing. LGBTQ+ rights are human rights, and Amnesty International gives Qatar low scores on human rights, particularly in relation to rights for women, workers and media, not to mention LGBTQ+ rights.
Per the report this week, journalists at SVT posed as a recently married gay couple asking if they’d be welcome at the 69 hotels FIFA lists as recommended for the World Cup in Qatar. Of the 59 to respond, 20 said they would be allowed only if they don’t tell anyone who they are. Three outright said they would not be allowed at all. Of the 69, 13 hotels did not respond or refused to comment for various reasons. (For more details, read the story here.)
The report highlighted a divide in what FIFA and Qatar are telling fans compared to what is happening on the ground. Already there has been a dearth of lodging available for fans wanting to attend the World Cup, and LGBTQ+ fans could find a place to stay even harder to find based on this report.
A spokesperson for the Qatar Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy told Reuters the country remains committed to delivering an inclusive World Cup experience.
“More than 100 hotels in Qatar that will accommodate visiting football fans, players, officials and other core stakeholders, will be required to comply with the Sustainable Sourcing Code,” the spokesperson told Reuters. “As a result, hotel operators complying with the Sustainable Sourcing Code are subsequently monitored and evaluated. The SC treats any violation of this code or instance of discrimination with the utmost seriousness.
“We would welcome further information on these allegations to ensure any partner associated with the FIFA World Cup does not fall short of the standards expected.”
Qatar executives can say one thing, but if the hotels aren’t on board, it’s totally meaningless. Imagine being told you’re not allowed to stay at a hotel because of who you are as a human being. It’s akin to discriminating against one’s race, religion or gender, and it’s another example of FIFA choosing profits over common sense and human rights.
To be clear, this isn’t to say other countries aren’t bad. Russia obviously had its problems as World Cup host in 2018, and the U.S. certainly doesn’t have a clean record with Amnesty International. Importantly, whataboutism doesn’t fix human rights violations, whether it’s the ability of a same-sex couple to stay in a hotel to watch soccer or a woman’s right to vote, go to school, play sports or have autonomy over their bodies.
Sadly, I cannot in good conscience recommend anyone but straight, cisgender fans travel to Qatar for the World Cup, as it appears lodging could be denied and arrest is possible. And sadly, that appears to be entirely by design from Qatar, and FIFA is complicit.
(Information from Reuters was used in this report.)