Qatar’s FIFA World Cup ambassador and former soccer player Khalid Salman said homosexuality is “damage to the mind” in an interview with German broadcaster ZDF on Monday.
The interview, filmed in Doha two weeks before the start of the tournament, was immediately interrupted by a World Cup organizing committee official.
In the interview, Salman was discussing the issue of homosexuality being illegal in Qatar.
Salman told ZDF that being gay was “haram”, meaning forbidden under Islamic law. “It’s mind damage,” Salman said.
With many people expected to travel to Qatar for the World Cup, “let’s talk about the gays,” Salman said.
“The most important thing is that everyone will agree to come 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”.
Salman was a Qatari footballer in the 1980s and 1990s.
He participated in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and has been one of the ambassadors of the host countries of the tournament.
Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup from November 20 to December 18.
The awarding of the football championship to Qatar has been strongly criticized for the human rights situation in the Gulf state and the treatment of foreign workers.
Earlier this month, soccer’s world governing body FIFA urged nations participating in the 2022 World Cup to focus on soccer when the tournament begins.
FIFA confirmed to CNN that a letter signed by FIFA president Gianni Infantino and the governing body’s general secretary Fatma Samoura was sent to the 32 nations taking part in the global spectacle on Thursday, but would not divulge its contents.
“If Gianni Infantino wants the world to ‘focus on football’, there is a simple solution: FIFA should finally start addressing serious human rights issues instead of sweeping them under the carpet,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Head of Economics and Field. Social Justice
“The first step would be to publicly commit to establishing a fund to compensate migrant workers before the tournament and to ensure that LGBT people are not discriminated against or harassed. It is surprising that this has not been done yet.
“Gianni Infantino is right when he says that ‘football does not exist in a vacuum’. Hundreds of thousands of workers have suffered abuse to make this tournament possible and their rights cannot be ignored or neglected.
“They deserve justice and compensation, not mere words, and time is running out.”