Cornerlia Ehlebracht ’25
The FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup is an international football/ soccer competition and one of the most viewed sporting events in the world. Competitors include men’s national teams from dozens of countries. Since its inception in 1930, it has occurred every four years except during the duration of World War II. World Cups alternate between different host countries, this year Qatar will be the first Middle-Eastern country to host. Many LGBTQ soccer fans are concerned for their safety and freedom of expression if they were to attend the tournament. “While Qatar prepares to host the World Cup, security forces are detaining and abusing LGBT people simply for who they are, apparently confident that the security force abuses will go unreported and unchecked,” said Rasha Younes, LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. In response to the growing distress of LGBTQ fans, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly had some controversial statements, cautioning to LGBTQ fans, “One of the things I would say to the football fans is, you know: ‘Please do be respectful of the host nation… I think with a little bit of flex and compromise at both ends, it can be a safe, secure and exciting World Cup.’” These statements were interpreted as incredibly offensive to LGBTQ fans as he seemed to argue that they should hide their true selves to appease others. As reported by Lavietes at NBC News, “In a sign of solidarity with the LGBTQ community — and a breach of FIFA uniform rules — eight of Europe’s soccer teams joined forces last month and announced that their teams would wear armbands emblazoned with rainbow hearts and ‘1 love’ at the international competition.” This decision to visibly support their LGBTQ fans by visually recognizing them is an important nod to fans signaling that, despite the encouraging of others, no one should ever have to be ashamed of their identity.