Some have expressed surprise that a nation that bars homosexuality and discriminates against women has been given the right to host the World Cup in 2022 – especially in the midst of ongoing concern about homophobia in football.

Stuart James, writing for the Guardian, pointed out the fact that Qatar’s 1971 Penal Code punishes sodomy between consenting adults with up to five years imprisonment.

The law has been enforced against gay locals and foreigners in the past. In 1995 an American man was sentenced to six months in prison and 90 lashes for homosexual activity.

“It’s obviously very disappointing to see Fifa giving their backing to a country where homosexuality is illegal and where people can get imprisoned,” Ed Connell, a spokesman for the Gay Football Supporters Network in the UK told the Guardian.

“The governing body of football are trying to send out a message that homophobia is unacceptable but they are endorsing a country where it’s illegal. It just sends out a very bad message. You wonder how people are meant to interpret Fifa’s commitment to tackling homophobia when they endorse a country in this way.”

According to Amnesty International, women continue to be seen as second class citizens and often face discrimination and violence in Qatar. The oil-rich Islamic country is an absolute monarchy and is ruled by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (picture).

Rampant homophobia in football has been blamed for the fact that there is currently no openly-gay player in professional football.

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