Qatar’s FIFA World Cup ambassador and former footballer Khalid Salman said in an interview with German broadcaster ZDF on Monday that homosexuality “damages the brain”.
The interview, filmed in Doha less than two weeks before the start of the tournament, was quickly stopped by an official from the World Cup Organizing Committee.
During the interview, Salman was discussing the issue of homosexuality being illegal in Qatar.
Salman told ZDF that being gay is “haram”, which means forbidden according to Islamic law. “It damages the mind,” Salman said.
As many are expected to travel to Qatar for the World Cup, “Let’s talk about gay people,” Salman said.
“The most important thing is, everybody will accept that they came here. But they have to accept our laws,” he said, adding that he was concerned that the children would “become something Can learn what is not good.”
Salman was a Qatari football player in the 1980s and 1990s.
He participated in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and was chosen as one of the ambassadors for the host country of the tournament.
Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup 2022 from November 20 to December 18.
His remarks drew sharp criticism from human rights activist Rasha Younis, senior LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, who called Salman’s comments “hurtful and unacceptable”.
“The Qatari government’s failure to counter this misinformation has had a significant impact on the lives of Qatar’s #LGBT residents,” he said on Twitter.
It comes as Qatar has been criticized for hosting the football tournament over the Gulf state’s human rights record and mistreatment of foreign workers.
Earlier this month, soccer’s world governing body FIFA urged countries participating in the 2022 World Cup to focus on soccer when the tournament begins.
FIFA confirmed to CNN that a letter signed by FIFA president Gianni Infantino and the governing body’s secretary general Fatima Samura was sent to the 32 nations participating in the world exhibition on Thursday, but would not reveal its contents.
“If Gianni Infantino wants the world to ‘focus on football’, there’s a simple solution: FIFA can finally start tackling serious human rights issues instead of sweeping them under the carpet,” Steve Cockburn, head of economic and economic affairs at Amnesty International, said: social justice.
“The first step is to publicly commit to a fund to compensate migrant workers before the tournament begins and to ensure that LGBT people are not discriminated against or harassed. This is shocking. They haven’t done that yet.
“Gianni Infantino is right to say that ‘football does not exist in a vacuum.’ Millions of workers have suffered abuses to make this tournament possible and their rights cannot be forgotten or denied.
“They deserve justice and compensation, not empty words, and time is running out.”