Metro Weekly

FIFA Urged to Cancel Contracts with Anti-LGBTQ Hotels

World Cup officials have yet to respond to growing scrutiny as LGBTQ+ FIFA fans face discrimination from hotels in Qatar.

Flag of Qatar – Photo: Didrik Johnck

With the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) World Cup coming up, FIFA is facing scrutiny for endorsing hotels that discriminate based on sexuality.

As ticket sales skyrocket for this year’s FIFA World Cup, organizers are attempting to crack down on endorsed hotels that violate their contracts by discriminating against guests. FIFA has required all official list accommodations to welcome guests – including LGBTQ people – in a “non-discriminatory manner” or face being removed from their official list.

The World Cup will be held in Qatar from November 21 to December 18.

FIFA’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said that no discrimination would be occurring at the soccer competition. “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 organizers will have their contracts terminated.”

Despite this policy, hotels on the official accommodation list have refused to reserve rooms for same-sex couples.

A report conducted by three Nordic broadcasting companies – Norway’s NRK, Sweden’s SVT, and Denmark’s DR – showed which hotels are discriminating on the basis of sexuality. Journalists conducted investigations at 56 of the official list hotels from FIFA, pretending to be LGBTQ couples, and recorded their findings.

Three of the hotels on the list have outright denied rooms to any same-sex couple. Twenty other hotels have allowed same-sex couples to book rooms as long as they didn’t “publicly display” their sexuality, and 33 hotels on the list allowed the reservations with no issue.

The Wyndham Grand Regency Doha, The Torch Doha, and Magnum Hotel & Suites Westbay were the three hotels that denied rooms. 

“While observing and respecting the law of Qatar, Wyndham Grand Regency Doha does not in any way discriminate against guests of any background and aspires to deliver the highest guest satisfaction, which will only be possible by treating everyone fairly and equally,” the hotel told Reuters in a statement. 

The Torch Doha was asked for a response, in which they referred to another comment made by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy. This statement argues that Qatar is a “conservative country” but is “committed to delivering an inclusive FIFA World Cup experience that is welcoming, safe and accessible to all.” 

The Magnum Hotel failed to respond when asked for a comment.

FIFA said that endorsed sponsors will have to comply with anti-discrimination goals to stay sponsored, but has not commented on the findings of the investigation implicating the three specific hotels. 

Since 2004, Qatar has criminalized homosexuality. Qatar’s legal system utilizes a mix of civil and Islamic law. In the Islamic religion, homosexuality is illegal. The penalties for it range from fines, imprisonment, and death, although there is no evidence that the death penalty has been enforced since 2004.

This is not the first controversy to surround Qatar hosting the World Cup. When it was first announced that the country would host the games back in 2011, Stepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, was asked about the potential mistreatment of LGBTQ+ fans. He responded with a joke.

“I would say they should refrain from any sexual activities,” Blatter said, laughing, at the time.

In a recent interview with journalists in Abu Dhabi, he apologized for his past remarks. 

“If somebody feels that they have been hurt, then I regret (it) and present apologies,” Blatter said.

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