Qatar FIFA World Cup ambassador, Khalid Salman has called homosexuality a “damage in the mind.”
The controversial statement comes just two weeks before the world cup starts in Qatar, a conservative Islamic society that has been criticized for its treatment of LGBTQ with fans scared of restrictions if they travel for the showpiece football event.
In an interview with German broadcaster ZDF, Salman was discussing the issue of homosexuality being illegal in Qatar.
Salman told ZDF that being gay was “haram,” meaning forbidden according to Islamic law. “It is damage in the mind,” Salman said.
As many people are expected to travel to Qatar for the World Cup, “let’s talk about gays,” Salman said.
“The most important thing is, everybody will accept that they come here. But they will have to accept our rules,” he said, adding he was concerned children may learn “something that is not good.”
The interview, filmed in Doha, was immediately stopped by an official from the World Cup organizing committee.
Salman was a Qatari football player in the 1980s and 1990s. He took part in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and has been selected as one of the tournament’s host country ambassadors.
Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup 2022 from November 20 until December 18.
Human rights activist Rasha Younes, reacting to the interview called Salman’s comments “harmful and unacceptable.”
“The Qatari government’s failure to counter this false information has a significant impact on the lives of Qatar’s #LGBT residents,” she said on Twitter.
The awarding of the football tournament to Qatar has been strongly criticized due to the human rights situation in the Gulf state and the treatment of foreign workers.
Earlier this month, football’s world governing body FIFA urged nations participating in the 2022 World Cup to focus on football when the tournament kicks off.
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The controversial comments from World Cup Ambassador Khalid Salman came in an interview for German television, in which he called gay people ‘haram’ and said they have ‘damage in the mind’.
— SBS News (@SBSNews) November 8, 2022