Robbie Rogers: It is ‘insane’ to allow Russia and Qatar to host World Cups

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Out gay footballer Robbie Rogers has spoken out about upcoming World Cups in Qatar and Russia, saying it is “insane” that they are being held there, given their poor records on LGBT rights.

Rogers came out publicly as gay in February 2013 and immediately announced his retirement from football, instantly departing Leeds United as a midfielder.

He later reversed his decision to quit the game and signed for US team LA Galaxy, and has now joined other sports figures to condemn the fact that Russia and Qatar have been allowed to host the World Cup.

In an interview with Sky Sports News, Rogers said: “I would never pressure anyone into speaking about the issue but it is absolutely insane,” he said. “If you look at the next few World Cups, they are in places where, if I were to go, I would possibly be imprisoned or beat up … It is pretty ridiculous.

“There is going to be number of gay fans that will go to watch the sport. Of course there is going to be another gay footballer there. I think it is an issue that needs to be spoken about and discussed with FIFA because every player should feel safe when they go to a World Cup.”

Qatar – a country notorious for its anti-gay laws – was last year cleared to host the 2022 World Cup by football’s governing body.

An ethics committee investigation by FIFA into the bidding process effectively confirmed Qatar and Russia as 2022 and 2018 hosts respectively, stating any rule breaches by the bidding countries were “of very limited scope”.

Qatar faced a number of corruption claims surrounding its bid, but the Gulf state is now in the clear.

Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in the country with sentences of up to five years imprisonment. Physical punishments can also include lashing and potentially death for those who are Muslim.

Russia in 2013 passed a law banning the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations”.

LGBT rights groups in 2010 said they were “deeply concerned” by FIFA’s decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

FIFA in 2013 announced its intention to put pressure on Qatar to relax its anti-gay legislation ahead of hosting the 2022 event.

The head of the women’s England football team Casey Stoney said she would not attend Qatar because gay people are not welcome there.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter, seen by many LGBT advocates as an obstacle when it comes to challenging homophobia and transphobia in football, was forced to apologise in 2010 for saying that gay football fans should avoid having sex in Qatar – in order to get round the country’s anti-gay laws.

Dutch former MP Richard de Mos proposed in 2012 that the Dutch football team play in pink, instead of the country’s national colour, orange, in order to highlight the LGBT rights situation in Qatar.

As well as temperatures, and the country’s anti-gay laws, Qatar has also been questioned on its use of migrant workers to construct stadiums for the event.