LGBTQ and other rights at the World Cup is a ‘huge blemish’ in the FIFA: Hall of Famers ” Alaska

VANCOUVER — Carrie Serwetnyk, the first woman inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame and an advocate for equality in sport, is in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup and says the event is “still trying to find her joy.”

VANCOUVER — Carrie Serwetnyk, the first woman inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame and an advocate for equality in sport, is in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup and says the event is “still trying to find her joy.” .

The tournament, which began on Sunday and runs through December 18, has faced a flurry of concerns over LGBTQ and other human rights issues.

Captains of several European countries scrapped plans to wear a “OneLove” armband as a show of solidarity with the LGBTQ community after football’s governing body FIFA warned they could face sanctions on the pitch. According to media reports from Qatar, some fans in rainbow attire were denied entry to the stadiums.

Servetnyk, a gay woman, said she felt very safe during the World Cup in Qatar but acknowledged the concerns.

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

She has appeared at eight other FIFA World Cups and five FIFA Women’s World Cups. She said human rights issues cast a “shadow” on the event this year.

“There has been so much negative press coverage of the tournament in relation to human rights, worker deaths and LGBTQ issues that it seems like the tournament is still trying to find its joy,” she said.

“Obviously this is a big blemish for (FIFA). They are attacked by the press. I think they will scrutinize future decisions, but I also think the Middle East deserves a World Cup.”

Some human rights activists have used the World Cup to draw attention to the conditions faced by LGBTQ citizens and residents in Qatar. Human Rights Watch has cited allegations of police brutality, arrests based solely on gender expression, and government-sponsored forced conversion therapy for transgender people.

“The government of Qatar should stop this abuse immediately, and FIFA should urge the government of Qatar to ensure long-term reform that protects LGBT people from discrimination and violence,” said Rasha Younes, LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch , in a press release last month.

Qatar has said everyone is welcome at the World Cup, including LGBTQ fans, but that visitors should respect the country’s culture. It states that public displays of affection by anyone are frowned upon.

Josie Nixon of the You Can Play Project, which advocates for LGBTQ people in sports in North America, said the scrutiny should move away from the host country and “towards FIFA”.

“Qatar existed in that lens before the microscope of the World Cup came to the region, and ultimately it was FIFA’s decision to put their fans and the LGBTQ population in Qatar at risk by hosting a tournament there,” Nixon said Interview.

The You Can Play project is part of a coalition campaigning for human rights, but Nixon said there had been “no effort” on the part of FIFA to engage with the group.

The list of demands on organizers from FIFA and Qatar includes repealing anti-LGBTQ laws, providing “explicit safeguards” against harassment, arrest or detention, and working to ensure the long-term safety of LGBTQ people in the region.

“We’re looking at alternative ways to make sure our fans are safe, to make sure fans around the world feel like they can still watch the tournament without violating any morale they might be in Ask a Question. There are many boycotts going on,” Nixon said.

Meanwhile, Soccer Canada announced it is teaming up with the You Can Play Project.

“We are announcing this now because we want the international conversations on LGBTQ2S+ issues in Qatar to continue well beyond the final whistle and to recommit ourselves to ensuring that our own policies, teams and the environment in which we work and play, are as safe as possible,” Earl Cochrane, Canada’s football secretary general, said in a statement on Friday.

He said the four-year partnership will “evolve” ahead of the next World Cup, which will be held across North America in 2026.

On Wednesday, Canada made their first World Cup appearance since 1986, losing 1-0 to Belgium. Canada’s next game is against Croatia on Sunday.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 24, 2022.

Brieanna Charlebois, The Canadian Press