According to Attitude, a Qatar official has said that the country will find "creative" ways to deal with gay soccer fans when the nation hosts the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and the penalties for being caught engaging in same-sex sexual activity can be as harsh as a five year prison sentence.
"[Qatar doesn't want to create] this impression, illusion that we don't care about our tradition and our ethical values," explained the country's Sports Minister, Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali. "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."
"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," he added.
Tourists have been punished under Qatar's homophobic laws in the past. In 1995, an American man was sentenced to 6 months in jail and 90 lashes after he was caught engaging in homosexual activity.
Qatar's bid for the World Cup has been fraught with controversy. Accusations of backroom deals, bribes, and corruption are rampant. Yesterday, less than a week after FIFA cleared Russia and Qatar, who are hosting the 2018 and 2022 games respectively, any malfeasance, the international soccer organization filed a criminal complaint with Switzerland's attorney general. FIFA was concerned about "international transfers of cash with connections to Switzerland."
Qatar and its bid have been under a lot of scrutiny. The Persian Gulf island, whose impact on the global soccer world is minuscule if at all present, has always been considered an odd choice. In the summer temperatures can exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. They've gotten the okay to move the tournament to winter, but many European soccer franchises are complaining that this will interfere with club matches and broadcasters are worrying about competition from the Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl.
On top of that, many are concerned about Qatar's human rights record. Over 1,000 people employed to build Qatari stadiums have died. Most of these people were immigrant laborers working under slave-like conditions.
Despite all of this it seems unlikely that Qatar will be stripped of its bid.