Qatar hosting the World Cup is a “step backwards” for gay football fans, the chair of Dublin’s LGBT soccer club has said.
John Coary said he usually looks forward to watching the World Cup but “obviously this one is different”.
Homosexuality is illegal in the gulf state, women are denied equal rights and migrant workers are routinely abused.
Earlier this week, a World Cup ambassador said that Qatar accepted that LGBT people would travel to watch matches but added menacingly, “They will have to accept our rules.” He also described homosexuality as "a damage in the mind".
It all means, Mr Coary said, that the World Cup does not come across as safe or welcoming to LGBT fans.
“LGBT+ inclusion in football has been a slow slog,” he told The Hard Shoulder.
“In the last year or so, we’ve seen some progress between Josh Carvallo, Jake Daniels coming out and it’s been great to see that kind of progress.
“I would worry that Qatar hosting the World Cup and these kind of comments coming out across the world puts us a step or two backwards rather than a step or two forwards.
“It’s bad enough for LGBT members who are out dealing with it but you have young people who are growing up and now seeing this and they’ll be seeing this viewpoint, it being accepted.
“So, I worry that it brings us a step back and emboldens people with those kind of views.”
A number of teams have said they will make public shows of solidarity with their LGBT fans - such as wearing rainbow armbands during matches.
Mr Coary said this kind of support was “great to see” but added the teams should never have been put in such a tricky position to begin with.
“For players and national teams, deciding to give Qatar the World Cup puts them in a difficult position,” he continued.
“They obviously want to focus on the football and participate in the headline tournament for international football.
"But the reality is that giving it to Qatar makes it necessary for teams and footballing bodies to come out and say, ‘We don’t support this attitude towards gay people, we don’t support this attitude to migrant workers and other things that have happened around the Qatari World Cup.’”
The World Cup begins on 20th November and the final will be played on 18th December.
Main image: A football and a rainbow flag. Picture by: Alamy.com