Campaigns demand FIFA bans Russia from hosting 2018 World Cup due to anti-gay law

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Campaigns in the UK and US featuring petitions with signatures from 60 countries are demanding that FIFA should relocate the 2018 World Cup from Russia.

Two petitions with more than 47,000 signatures on, urge FIFA to take into account Russia’s recently introduced anti-gay law, as well as military actions in the Ukraine, and revoke the right of the country to host the World Cup in 2018.

The two petitions, one started in the US by football fan Zach Lewis and another started in the UK by James Lavin, have gathered support from football fans in more than 60 different countries.

They say that FIFA is morally obligated to move the World Cup to another country for 2018.

The campaign is supported by two US Senators, Mark Kirk and Dan Coats, who have both written to FIFA.

The open letter read that the country has “displayed a brazen disrespect for fundamental principles of FIFA and international law, [they] hope you will agree that it does not deserve the honour of either hosting the World Cup or participating in one.”

The petitions are also supported by Olympic gold medallist Greg Louganis and Stephen Fry.

Fry commented, saying: “The rights of LGBT people and the violence shown to them shows that Russia is not a fit country to host world events that should reflect amity and equality.”

On the campaign, Lewis said: “Russia has not been a team player when it comes to supporting the human rights of those around the globe and those in their own homeland. They staged an invasion of sovereign Ukrainian territory, have instituted some of the world’s harshest anti-gay laws, and have repeatedly cracked down on freedom of speech.

“The World Cup is meant to be a celebration not just of the game of soccer, but the incredible diversity that exists around the planet. But that clearly won’t be the case for millions if Russia is allowed to host the 2018 World Cup.”

Adds Lavin: “FIFA must act now. The decision of where to hold the World Cup will affect millions of people across the globe, we hope its choices are ones that will improve lives and not support oppression. Governments worldwide are currently considering sanctions against Russia for their reckless actions on the global stage. FIFA can support these efforts by withdrawing its intention of holding the 2018 World Cup there.”

Writing for PinkNews earlier this month, James Lavin said Russia should not be allowed to host the 2018 World Cup because of human rights violations against the LGBT community.