Legendary gay footballer Carrie Serwetnyk thinks FIFA will ‘take a hard look’ at World Cup future

Pyrotechnics explode around a giant FIFA World Cup trophy prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Qatar and Senegal

Legendary gay footballer Carrie Serwetnyk has said FIFA will “take a hard look” at the future of the World Cup after backlash to this year’s tournament being held in Qatar, where it is illegal to be gay.

Serwetnyk, who played for the Canadian Women’s team from 1986 to 1991, has said that controversies over Qatar’s human rights record have left a “huge blemish” on FIFA.

Speaking to Global News Canada, Serwetnyk, 57, said: “There’s been so much negative attention to the tournament in the press with human rights, worker’s deaths and LGBTQ issues, it seems like the tournament is still trying to find its joy.

“Of course, this is a huge blemish on [FIFA]. They’re getting battered by the press.

“I think they’ll take a hard look at future choices, but I also think the Middle East deserves a World Cup.”

Serwetnyk, the first woman inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame, added that even though she is gay, she feels safe while in Qatar for the World Cup.

“If I lived here, that would probably be a different story. It’s such a conservative country… I don’t think that fear is imagined,” she said.

Qatar’s response to the LGBTQ+ in the run-up to the World Cup, including reportedly banning rainbow clothing within stadiums and describing LGBTQ+ people as “abnormal”, has led some queer football fans to boycott the tournament altogether.

Jack Duncan, a founding member of LGBTQ+ rugby fan association Quins Pride, said that as a gay football fan, the World Cup being held in Qatar is “heartbreaking”.

He told PinkNews: “This makes two World Cups in a row where the hosts have been hostile to LGBTQ people (with the last being in Russia).

“It further entrenches my view, which is widely held among queer football fans, that FIFA don’t care about us… They say all the right things and roll out the rainbows once a year, but when it really matters – money comes first.”

In Qatar homosexuality is illegal, and being found guilty of same-sex relations can result in a lengthy prison sentence, while under Sharia law it is possible for men to face the death penalty if they are found to have engaged in same-sex intimacy.

Ahead of the World Cup starting, a poll revealed that 62 per cent of British people of mixed ages, genders and political beliefs, believe Qatar’s stance on gay rights should ban it from hosting the global tournament.