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If you are a gay soccer fan and love the World Cup, watching at home on TV would be highly recommended over traveling to Qatar, where gay sex is illegal. Comments by the country's sports minister to the Associated Press did little to calm the sense that gays aren't welcome.
Asked how gay people will be welcomed in 2022, Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali replied: "It's exactly like the alcohol question."
He said Qatar doesn't want to create "this impression, illusion that we don't care about our tradition and our ethical values ... We are studying all these issues. We can adapt, we can be creative to have people coming and enjoying the games without losing the essence of our culture and respecting the preference of the people coming here. I think there is a lot we can do."
The reference to the "alcohol question" was his reply on whether beer sales will be allowed at stadiums in the country where alcohol is severely restricted. "In the hotels and many areas we have alcohol but we have also our own system that people need to respect," he told AP. "As we bid for 2022, we will respect all the rules and regulations by FIFA. We can study this and minimize the impact on our people and tradition. I think we can be creative, finding solutions for all of this. But we respect all the rules and regulations."
First off, he equates equal rights for LGBT people with selling beer. And I'm not sure what "creative solutions" can be found for gay people to avoid "minimizing" Qatar's tradition of discriminating against gay people. It sounds very similar to the solution proposed by Sepp Blatter, head of FIFA, the world soccer governing body, in 2010, when he said gays could avoid any trouble by not having sex in Qatar.
The next two World Cups -- Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022 -- are in country's inhospitable to gay people. Soccer may be the be the "beautiful game," but the people running it are pretty ugly.