FIFA President Sepp Blatter

There is renewed speculation that the 2022 World Cup will be moved from the homophobic host country of Qatar.

The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Countries) nation, in which homosexuality is illegal, was controversially selected by FIFA in 2010 as the host for the football bonanza in 2022. The awarding of the honour has since been mired in allegations of corruption.

But it’s not the country’s human rights record nor alleged irregularities in the bid process that may see it lose the tournament, it’s its scorching temperatures.

On Monday, FIFA Executive Committee member Theo Zwanziger told Sport Bild: “I personally think that in the end the 2022 World Cup will not take place in Qatar. Medics say that they cannot accept responsibility with a World Cup taking place under these conditions.”

He added: “Fans from around the world will be coming and travelling in this heat and the first life-threatening case will trigger an investigation by a state prosecutor.”

Qatar’s Executive Director of Communications, Nasser Al Khater, responded that Zwanziger’s views were his own and that the event will go ahead as planned.

“The only question now is when, not if. Summer or winter, we will be ready. We have proven that a FIFA World Cup in Qatar in the summer is possible with state-of-the-art cooling technology,” he said in a statement.

Reacting to concerns that homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, Sepp Blatter, the President of FIFA, said in 2010 that gay fans who hoped to attend the Qatar World Cup “should refrain from any sexual activities.” He later apologised for the comment, saying it was meant as a joke.

In May, Blatter acknowledged that awarding the Cup to Qatar was “a mistake” because of concerns about the heat.

Homosexuality is outlawed in all GCC countries, which also include Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Punishments include imprisonment, fines, deportation and even the death penalty.

In October last year, leading British LGBT rights activist Peter Tatchell called for the Qatar World Cup to be cancelled after the Kuwaiti health ministry said it would conduct medical “tests” to “detect” gay expatriates “who would be then barred from entering Kuwait or any of the GCC member states.”

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