John Amaechi

Activists and a gay former basketball star have come out against FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s joke that gay football fans attending the 2022 World Cup should refrain from having sex. The event is being hosted by the anti-gay nation of Qatar.

John Amaechi, the first openly gay athlete to have played in America’s National Basketball Association, said that Blatter’s comment was “wholly unacceptable”.

“Anything less than a full reversal of his position is unacceptable and if the FA and football associations around the world fail to acknowledge this insult, they too will be complicit.

“If sport cannot serve to change society, even temporarily during the duration of an event like the World Cup that invites the world to participate, then it is little more than grown men chasing a ball and we should treat it as such.”

Chris Basiurski, head of Britain’s Gay Football Supporters Network, also slated Blatter’s statement.

“Many LGBT people live in countries where they would face execution or imprisonment if discovered, these people deserve our help, our respect and our support. They, like the rest of us, do not deserve to be laughed at. Mr. Blatter should retract his remarks and apologise immediately. Otherwise, he should reconsider his position and resign.

“Blatter is naive to think that by taking the beautiful game to Qatar, it will bring an end to discrimination in the Middle East. He says that football is ‘everything for everyone’ but he has not yet explained just how FIFA is going to ensure that LGBT football players and supporters will be welcome in Qatar.”

Homosexuality is criminalised under Qatar’s penal code, with penalties including five years in prison.

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