FIFA sending World Cup guests to homophobic Qatar hotels, undercover report finds

A close-up of a football boot showing laces in rainbow pride colours

An undercover report has found that several hotels in Qatar recommended by FIFA for the World Cup would not allow LGBTQ+ guests to stay.

Despite the England Football Association’s (FA) assurances that queer fans “will be welcome” in Qatar for the World Cup, taking place in November to December, a report by Norwegian Broadcaster NRK, Sweden’s SVT and Denmark’s DR showed that several hotels in the country would deny entry to same-sex couples.

Reporters posing as a gay couple on their honeymoon found that three of 69 hotels on FIFA’s official list of recommended accommodations would deny entry based on sexuality.

A further 20 hotels, the survey found, said that it would allow a same-sex couple to stay in its accommodation on the condition that “you should not show that you are gay”.

One of the hotels responded to the journalists posing as a couple that “it’s OK [to book a room] if you dress appropriately and do not exhibit sexual behaviour or kiss in public”, adding that if the couple were to “put on make-up and dress gay”, they could find themselves in trouble with the government, as homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.

Another hotel replied: “I would like to inform you that we have previously had incidents where the police have picked up Qataris at the hotel who have had homosexual relationships.”

FIFA told PinkNews: “Since made aware of this case, FIFA has been in touch with the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC, and will ensure that the hotels mentioned are once again made aware of our strict requirements in relation to welcoming guests in a non-discriminatory manner.

“Hotels, as well as any other service provider associated with the FIFA World Cup, who fail to comply with the high standards set by the organisers will have their contracts terminated. 

“FIFA’s position on inclusivity and the protection of human rights is unequivocal, and clearly laid out in the FIFA Statutes, FIFA’s Human Rights Policy and several FIFA regulations and codes – discrimination of any kind on account of sexual orientation or gender identity is strictly prohibited.”

The organisation added in its statement to PinkNews that it was in regular conversation with LGBTQ+ football fan groups to “learn from their lived experiences and provide reassurances for all LGBTQI+ fans to feel safe, respected and welcome” at the World Cup.

Mark Bullingham, England FA chief, has previously assured LGBTQ+ fans that they are safe to travel to Qatar.

“We have asked the question as to whether all of our fans will be able to come, particularly those from LGBTQ+ community,” he said, “and we received the unequivocal answer that absolutely everybody is welcome to come to Qatar”.

In response to years-long criticism for its anti-LGBTQ+ laws, Qatar said that it would allow Pride flags in its World Cup stadiums, stating that it would expect visitors to “respect our culture” in return.
“When it comes to the rainbow flags in the stadiums, FIFA have their own guidelines, they have their rules and regulations,” Nasser Al-Khater, 2022 World Cup chief executive, told the Associated Press in December 2020.

“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.”