After Josh Cavallo, who became the world’s only openly gay top professional footballer when he left last month, expressed safety concerns over his participation in the FIFA World Cup next year in Qatar, the head of the tournament assured that the player from Adelaide would be welcomed in the country.
Illegal in Qatar, homosexuality is punishable by flogging, imprisonment and even execution. Tournament organizer Nasser Al Khater, however, said Qatar was like any other society in the world and assured that “no one felt threatened here”.
Speaking to CNN, Al Khater said: “We welcome him here to the state of Qatar, we welcome him to come and see him, even before the World Cup. Nobody feels threatened here, no one feels in danger here. “I think, unfortunately, maybe he has that perception because of reading a lot of these accusations or reading a lot of these reports that cast a negative light. Qatar is like any other society in this world. Everyone is welcome.
Al Khater insisted that there was nothing to worry about other than a public display of affection. “Look, public displays of affection are frowned upon, and it goes on every level — on every level. Qatar is a modest country. That’s all you have to respect. Other than that, everyone is free to live their life. “They [gay people] will come to Qatar as fans of a football tournament. They can do anything any other human being would do. What I’m saying is that Qatar, from a public display of affection standpoint, is conservative.
Al Khater agreed that the World Cup could be used as a platform to protest against Qatar, but said it was not a concern for the organizer “All the scenarios are open and all the scenarios are on the table,” he said. “Are we worried about this? No, I wouldn’t say that worries us ”.