International soccer governing body FIFA’s anti-discrimination task force will pressure the organization to stand up against anti-gay laws in Russia and Qatar, the countries hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2018 and 2022, the Guardian reports. Piara Powar, a member of the FIFA task force, says he plans to raise the issue.
The Russian government recently passed laws effectively banning public speech about homosexuality, and in Qatar homosexuality is outright illegal. In 2011, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that gay people should “refrain from sexual activity” while at the World Cup in Qatar.
Powar, however, thinks that the tournament could be used to bring Qatar around on the gay issue.
"Qatar wants to host the tournament at the start of a new decade. They will want to present an internationally welcoming face, and with FIFA's help we are sure it will be possible to win over the Qataris so that they come into line with the rest of the world, including other countries in the Gulf and Middle East, and change the law on homosexuality,” he said.
The anti-discrimination task force was formed last year to deal with problems of racism and homophobia in soccer.