Rainbow flags will be welcomed at the 2022 FIFA World Cup which will be hosted by Qatar between November and December 2022.
This development is seen as a great boost to the movement of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community that has been advocating against discrimination against the LGBT+ community.
The LGBT+ have been using the rainbow flag as a symbol to represent the fight for equality in the sport whereby people who belong to the LGBT community can be treated like every other person.
On Wednesday, the FIFA chief social responsibility and education officer Joyce Cook confirms that though Qatar has strict laws against the LGBT+ community, the world football governing body has informed the organizing committee that there must not be any form of discrimination against the community during the football festival.
She also revealed that flags, T-shirts, armbands, and other symbols that represent the LGBT+ community will be allowed in and outside the stadium during the competition.
This could mean that Qatar’s strict stance against same-sex relationships could be watered down before the commencement of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. But how far the country would allow its religious beliefs to make way for FIFA‘s rules can only be imagined.
“I’m an openly gay woman in football, so this is personally, to me, something I’m close to as well”, Joyce Cook said.
“We will see a progressive change in all of those aspects and rainbow flags, t-shirts will all be welcome in the stadium that’s a given. They understand very well that is our stance.”
2022 World Cup chief executive Nasser Al-Khater confirmed that Qatar would make room to accommodate FIFA’s rules especially those that concern tolerance for all people including the LGBT+ community.
He also confirmed that the 2020 World Cup will accommodate the rainbow flags and any other symbols representing the LGBT+ community. He however noted that as the country would respect FIFA’s tolerance rules, the visitors to the country should respect the country’s beliefs.
“When it comes to the rainbow flags in the stadiums, FIFA have their guidelines, they have their rules and regulations,” the 2022 World Cup chief executive Nasser Al-Khater said. “Whatever they may be, we will respect them.
“We have a conservative country, however, we are a welcoming country. We are open and welcoming hospitable.
“We understand the difference in people’s cultures. We understand the difference in people’s beliefs and so I think, again, everybody will be welcome and everybody will be treated with respect.
“Just like our culture is a culture of this world, we also expect people to respect our culture. I think there’s a balance and there’s a feeling that people will respect people from everywhere.”
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be the first World Cup that will be staged in the Middle East and it will be the first World Cup that will be played in November instead of in May. The change in the hosting period of the football festival was to avoid the hot weather in Qatar which dominants the period between May and October.