Jason Collins: It is wrong for FIFA to allow Russia and Qatar to host World Cups

Retired professional basketball player Jason Collins, has hit out at FIFA for allowing World Cups to be held in Russia and Qatar.

Collins, who became the first out NBA player to continue playing, and who retired last year, criticised the football governing body over allowing the countries to host, despite strong anti-gay laws.

Speaking on Sportsworld, on BBC World Service, in an interview which will be broadcast on Saturday, Collins said: “I’m extremely disappointed in Fifa.”

Going on, the 36-year-old said players attending should “speak out” about the laws, and anti-LGBT culture.

“If you’re a governing body like Fifa you cannot have sporting events in countries… where they have laws on the books that say that homosexuality is illegal, you just cannot give them that power,” he said.

“So whether it’s Russia, whether it’s Qatar, you cannot give them the games, period, until they change their laws or the culture so that people feel comfortable again to live their authentic life.”

Going on, Collins said it would be up to individual athletes to boycott the World Cups, but said he hoped those in attendance should raise awareness of LGBT issues.


“If you do go, know that as an athlete you have a unique platform and I hope that you’re able to use that platform, that voice, to raise awareness of the LGBT community in whatever country that you’re in,” he said.

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.

Out gay former Leeds Utd footballer Robbie Rogers in January spoke 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.

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.