German footballer Leon Goretzka has condemned Qatar World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman for his recent anti-LGBTQ+ comments. On 20 November, teams from around the world are set to compete in the highly-anticipated 2022 FIFA World Cup – which will be held in the Gulf region.
Since the news was announced, activists and footballers have expressed concerns over the tournament’s location due to the country’s anti-LGBTQ laws and treatment of foreign workers.
In Qatar, homosexuality is illegal and can be punished by penalties including flogging, imprisonment and even execution. While the Football Association assured LGBTQ+ fans that they would not face arrest for kissing or holding hands in public, some of the cup’s officials, like Salman, have expressed the opposite sentiment.
In an interview for German television broadcaster ZDF, the former Qatari international described homosexuality as “damage in the mind.” “They have to accept our rules here,” he said of LGBTQ+ fans travelling to see the World Cup. “[Homosexuality] is haram.