Arsenal’s GayGooners supporters group have called on FIFA to make the 2022 World Cup the last to take place in a country that persecutes members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The group held a protest outside the Qatar embassy in London on Saturday at the same time as FIFA president Gianni Infantino was hosting a media conference defending the decision to take the finals to the Middle East.
Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQ+ community has been heavily criticised, with the issues raised only coming more to the fore as tournament kick-off approaches.
However, during an extraordinary opening monologue Infantino instead pointed the finger at the western world, stating: “I think for what we Europeans have been doing the last 3,000 years we should be apologising for next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons to people.”
In a statement released to the PA news agency, GayGooners co-chair Carl Fearn spoke out at the “lip service” given to LGBTQ+ supporters.
“We call upon FIFA, UEFA, the IOC etc. to make this the last major international sporting tournament to be held in a place that criminalises LGBT+ people,” he said.
“Our members and those of other LGBT+ supporters groups are angry at the open discrimination of LGBT+ people in Qatar”
“FIFA has paid lip service to LGBT+ concerns about the basic human right to exist and during the tournament will keep their heads buried in the sands of Qatar.”
Infantino opened his hour-long speech by saying: “Today I have very strong feelings, today I feel Qatari, today I feel Arab, today I feel African, today I feel gay, today I feel disabled, today I feel a migrant worker”
Fearn, though, told the 52-year-old Swiss he should spend time with the groups he claimed to be at one with before he could make such claims.
“In light of Infantino’s comments, we challenge Mr. Infantino to spend a day in 30+ degree heat working with migrant workers in Qatar and another day with LGBT+ people in Qatar who have to hide who they are before he can declare how he feels towards both groups.
“This is not the World Cup for All that FIFA promised.”