GLAAD and over 25 organizations: FIFA must take action on homophobia in soccer

At the close of the 2014 World Cup, GLAAD was joined by over 25 U.S. and international LGBT and human rights organizations today in a letter to FIFA requesting concrete action to address homophobia in the game and anti-gay chants yelled in the stands. In advance of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, GLAAD also announced a continued campaign to educate FIFA and corporate sponsors about the standing anti-LGBT laws in both of those countries.

"At a time when more of the world than ever loves the sport of soccer, its biggest tournament, the World Cup, is starting to be known as an anti-gay event and this narrative will only grow in advance of the next games in Russia and Qatar, two countries with disastrous records when it comes to LGBT people," said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD. "Networks, fans and sponsors do not want to be associated with stadiums chanting anti-gay slurs nor do they want a situation like the Sochi Olympics, which was overshadowed by the discussion of Russia's anti-LGBT environment. GLAAD will be reaching out to FIFA and corporate partners worldwide to bring change."

To see the letter visit: http://www.glaad.org/open-letter-fifa. LGBT, Latino, faith and sports organizations that signed on to the letter to FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter include: GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign, GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), The Task Force, National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), The Trevor Project, Family Equality Council, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), Women's Sports Foundation, GO! Athletes, Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, Inc., Br{ache the Silence, Federation of Gay Games, FearlessProject.org, Outsports, Latino Equality Alliance, CODISE A.C. (Mexico), Federación Argentina de Lesbianas Gays Bisexuales y Trans (Argentina), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, AM Comunicación e Información (Mexico), Metropolitan Community Churches, DignityUSA, More Light Presbyterians, New Ways Ministry, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Seventh Day Adventist Kinship International, Campus Pride, RUSA LGBT, and Nehirim.

During the 2014 World Cup soccer games in Brazil, fans in the stadiums and at home could hear groups chanting anti-gay slurs at members of the opposing team. Before the start of World Cup, GLAAD asked FIFA to speak out about all forms of discrimination including that directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Out soccer player Robbie Rogers supported GLAAD's #StopTheSlurs campaign.

After investigating a complaint filed by Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) FIFA said the use of the anti-gay slur 'puto' was not offensive in the context of a soccer game, which sparked debate among LGBT fans and allies. In many parts of the Spanish-speaking world, 'puto' means 'faggot.' In countries where it is not specifically an anti-gay epithet, it is a very offensive pejorative, which expresses misogynistic attitudes. Conapred, Mexico's anti-discrimination agency, has come out strongly stating that the word is offensive and hurtful. 

After FIFA decided to allow slurs in the game, Univision read a statement on air before and during the half time of the recent Mexico v. Netherlands match that warned viewers that offensive language would be heard during the match and reaffirmed the network's commitment to supporting a World Cup that is safe for all. ESPN also spoke about the controversy around the slurs on-air.

The 2018 World Cup is planned to be held in Sochi, Russia, which has come under heavy criticism since the Olympics since Russia passed an "anti-propaganda" law that is silencing LGBT citizens and promoting violence against them. Additionally, the 2022 World Cup is scheduled to be held in Qatar, where being gay is illegal and LGBT people can be imprisoned. When FIFA President Sepp Blatter was asked about Qatar's anti-LGBT laws, his response was to laugh and state that LGBT fans who plan to attend should “refrain from sexual activity.” He later apologized for his flippant comments.

"Sports and international sporting events are a way to unite people around the world. Allowing hate and hate speech to be part of the games flies in the face of what tournaments like World Cup stand for," Ellis said. "LGBT people, and our family members and friends want to attend events like World Cup, but won't be joining when the celebration doesn't welcome us."

To learn more about GLAAD's World Cup campaign or to see our Global Voices 2014 World Cup Playbook in English and Spanish at http://www.glaad.org/worldcup

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