The Situationist

It Depends on What You Mean By “Discrimination” . . .

Posted by Adam Benforado on December 14, 2010

At the beginning of the month, I bemoaned FIFA’s decision to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and pointed to the country’s poor human rights record.

On Monday of this week, Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s president responded.

Okay, well, he didn’t *technically* respond to me, but he responded to a question that I would have liked a straight answer to: How can FIFA, which purports to be strongly against discrimination based on race, gender, and sexual orientation (among other things), justify holding the World Cup in a country that explicitly discriminates against homosexuals and women?

What was Blatter’s joking response when asked about the possibility of corporal punishment against gays visiting Qatar in 2022?

“I would say they should refrain from any sexual activities.”

Then speaking more seriously he explained,

We are definitely living in a world of freedom and I’m sure when the World Cup will be in Qatar in 2022, there will be no problems. You see in the Middle East the opening of this culture, it’s another culture because it’s another religion, but in football we have no boundaries.

We open everything to everybody and I think there shall not be any discrimination against any human beings be it on this side or that side, be it left, right or whatever. If they want to watch a match somewhere in Qatar 2022, I’m sure they will be admitted to such matches.

So there you have it: discrimination, for Blatter, means whether you are allowed into the stadium or not.  The lashes you receive outside the stadium for exercising your basic human rights are not FIFA’s concern.

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