Gary Lineker and Nadhim Zahawi rubbish foreign secretary’s LGBTQ+ World Cup warning

Nadhim Zahawi, James Cleverly and Gary Lineker

Gary Lineker and Nadhim Zahawi have opposed foreign secretary James Cleverly’s suggestion LGBTQ+ fans should “compromise” and “be respectful” while in Qatar for the World Cup.

Cleverly spoke to LBC on Wednesday (26 October) about the safety of queer football fans in Qatar, a country where homosexuality is illegal, and abuse of LGBTQ+ people has been reported as recently as this month.

He told the radio show that fans should show “a little bit of flex and compromise” while in the country for the football tournament, which begins on 20 November.

His comments have attracted criticism, with Match of the Day host Lineker sarcastically writing on Twitter: “Whatever you do, don’t do anything gay. Is that the message?”

As well as Lineker, several politicians, football fans, and LGBTQ+ activists have since slammed Cleverly’s comments.

Tory minister Nadhim Zahawi, while not criticising his colleague, disagreed with his view.

“I would say you should not compromise on your identity or your sexuality or your sexual preference in any way,” Zahawi told LBC Radio.

“Of course you are safe to go to the World Cup. No one should have to compromise at all in my view.”

Labour MP Nadia Whittome tweeted that LGBTQ+ people cannot “compromise” when it comes to safety.

“This morning on LBC, foreign secretary James Cleverly told LGBTQ football fans to ‘be respectful’ and ‘compromise’ during the World Cup in Qatar,” she wrote.

“What exactly is the respectful middle ground between LGBTQ people who want to be safe and a regime that puts them in prison?”

Labour MP Kate Osborne added: “Is this actually your official advice to LGBTQ+ football fans? Go, but be respectful and don’t ‘act gay’????”

TV critic Scott Bryan added that Cleverly’s comments had “hit deep”, and that the times he had been happiest was when he was “unapologetically myself”.

LGBTQ+ football fans have been repeatedly reassured that they will be able to attend the World Cup in Qatar safely, with FIFA stating that it has a “strategic programme of concrete measures” in place for the event.

FIFA told PinkNews in a statement: “Qatar is committed to ensuring that everyone will be able to enjoy the tournament in a safe and welcoming environment, to building bridges of cultural understanding and to creating an inclusive experience for all participants and attendees, including members of the LGBTIQ+ community.”

The FA (Football Association) added to PinkNews: “We will continue to request more details on the assurances received from the Local Organising Committee that all fans, including those from LGBTQ+ communities, will be welcome and that the safety and security of every fan is the top priority.

“Regular dialogue continues with local authorities on the ground to ensure this is the case.”