LGBTQ+ fan groups have accused FIFA and the 2022 World Cup organisers of not taking their concerns seriously around the competition in Qatar this year.
The country's hosting of the tournament this year has stirred up controversy since it was awarded in 2010.
Qatar's treatment of LGBTQ+ people as well as welfare and rights of migrant workers, thousands of whom are said to have died in the construction of stadiums for the tournament, have been heavily criticised in recent years.
What has been said?
A joint statement issued by eight football supporters’ groups from across Europe and North America voiced their disappointment in the governing body for their disregard of human lives on the day of the group stage draw.
The statement read: "Over the past 18 months, we tried to engage with FIFA and the Qatar Supreme Committee ahead of the World Cup in November and December 2022. Our aims were simple:
- To gain concrete assurances and examples of how LGBT+ fans, players, journalists and staff would be protected in a country that criminalises their existence.
- To raise concerns regarding human rights in Qatar.
- To shine a light on the plight of LGBT+ Qataris and those living in Qatar.
"A founding principle of our group is that we should be able to follow our team as our authentic selves wherever we play in the world without fear for our safety and with freedom from persecution...There has been little effort from organisers to proactively engage around the concerns fans and rights groups have raised.
“Instead, we have often heard the well-drummed PR line that 'this is a World Cup for all'… We cannot, in good faith, tell our members – LGBT+ people or allies – that this is a World Cup for all.
Concern for LGBTQ+ fans
The eight groups stressed concern for supporters in what they described as a "broken process".
The statement added: “We have seen no details about how our trans+ members will be treated with respect through security checks.
"We have heard no specifics on guarantees that LGBT+ people (fans or residents) will not be arrested for their existence. We have witnessed a complete disregard for fans throughout this broken process.
"It is clear that fans’ voices, especially from minority groups, are not taken seriously by FIFA and the SC. We are the backbone of the game – listen to us, especially when we are trying to make football a better environment for all.
"Our questions and concerns are separate to the moral debate on whether LGBT+ fans should attend, and our work will continue after this statement, after this World Cup. We will be heard, we will be seen, we will not be going anywhere.
"This tournament needs to be safe for travelling fans who decide to go but must also create a positive legacy for LGBT+ people in Qatar. To this end, we will continue working with other stakeholders and governing bodies to express these concerns and help shape a more equal and inclusive future for football.
"Change requires both sides to work together – we hope that FIFA and the SC will uphold their end of the bargain. That said, our aims remain the same, and we will pursue them with or without their input.
"We will continue to push and are hoping that we will be heard and that we can make change together. But it needs two parties to do so and a genuine commitment for change from the organisers and governing bodies as well.
"Signatories: Football Supporters Europe, Three Lions Pride (England), Queer Football Fanclubs (Europe), Roze Règâhs (ADO Den Haag), Independent Supporters Council North America, Football Supporters against Homophobia Norway, Pride in Football (UK), Rainbow Wall (Wales)."