Openly gay and HIV+ prominent French politican and writer Jean-Luc Romero has called on the French government, France's Football Federation and world football body FIFA to seek "a specific intervention" with 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar "so that this country decriminalise homosexuality and put an end to discrimination suffered by people living with AIDS."
"The problem," said Romero, "is that this country has been designated to host the football World Cup in 2022. In practice, this means that any homosexual could be stopped! While sport and football is supposed to convey the values of tolerance, the choice of such a country to host a major sporting event is serious," he said.
In Qatar, homosexuality is punishable by five years in prison and 90 lashes, according to Romero. He pointed out that the purchase of one of France's leading football clubs, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), in July by a Qatari investment group had raised considerable disquiet over a possible threat to its existing "excellent" partnership with a gay football supporters association. The club had signed a partnership with the association to fight against homophobia and discrimination in football in 2008.
"The leaders of international football does not seem to care," says Romero. Yagg notes that FIFA leader Sepp Blatter when asked about the issue of the criminalisation of homosexuality in Qatar has said:
"I think they [gays] should refrain from sexual activity. "Romero notes that because of visa restrictions Qatar is "forbidden territory for people with HIV. To 33 million people living with AIDS in 2011!"
He argues that "values" football "should override financial interests."
"If [French Sports Minister] Chantal Jouanno and Sepp Blatter do not intervene, they will validate the fact that economic development is paramount, that discrimination is acceptable when the financial stakes are high and therefore the World Cup is not really a feast for all! In their own way - that of those who want to keep their hands clean - they justify homophobic hatred and violence."Update, 25 September: French club Paris Saint-Germain has renewed its partnership with the LGBT football association Paris Foot Gay (PFG).