The FIFA World Cup kicks off Sunday in Qatar amid media coverage focusing on the country’s human rights record, especially its stance on homosexuals and the many deaths among migrant workers who built the infrastructure for the World Cup.
Adding to the intensity of an already sensitive topic, Khaled Salman, a former Qatari footballer and ambassador for this year’s World Cup, last week described homosexuality as haram and “brain damage”, sports website Marca says.
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, and LGBT people have been arbitrarily detained or mistreated by the authorities, according to Human Rights Watch.
Qatar’s human rights record has prompted many attendees and would-be celebrities to boycott the month-long football competition, according to Marca.
On Sunday, English actress Dua Lipa dismissed speculation that she was due to perform at the sporting event, citing Qatar’s human rights record.
“I will not perform and have never been involved in any negotiations to perform,” Lipa added.
Lipa is known for having a huge fan base among the LGBTQ+ community, and is outspoken about her continued standing with them.
Another British musician, Rod Stewart, told the Sunday Times that he was offered a check for $1 million 15 months ago to perform in Qatar but turned it down on ethical grounds.
“It is not right to go,” he said.
The musicians confirmed to be taking part in the FIFA Fan Fest next month are Sean Paul and Kelen Bandit, while Shakira and the Black Eyed Peas are also rumored to be performing.
K-pop star Jungkook has also been confirmed to be at the opening ceremony alongside former Take That member Robbie Williams.
In October, Melanie C – also known as “Sporty Spice” of the Spice Girls – said she was “very uncomfortable” showing her support for Qatar given the country’s treatment of LGBT people.
She also talked about former English soccer player David Beckham’s role as ambassador for the tournament and the $10 million check he received for his participation, saying, “It’s tough…David is a friend of mine, and everyone has to make their own choices.”
She added that it was “difficult” for sports to change their culture when so much money is involved.
The former England player’s decision to accept the tournament ambassador role has drawn criticism from human rights groups and celebrities alike.
British comedian Joe Lysette challenged Beckham to withdraw from his deal with Qatar.
In a video on the website, Lycett says he will donate £10,000 of his own money to charity if the footballer relinquishes his role in the tournament.
Speaking about Beckham’s involvement in the LGBT community, the comedian said, “You’re the first footballer in the Premier League to shoot with gay magazines like Attitude, talk openly about your gay fans, marry a Spice girl, which is the most gay thing you can do.” man to do.”
In March, it was also reported that Prince William – the chairman of the Football Association of England – would not be attending the tournament. The justification was given by a “busy winter schedule”.
The newly appointed Prince of Wales visited the “Three Lions”, as England’s football team is known, on Monday at the National Football League Center in England’s West Midlands region and presented members of the squad with their shirt numbers for the upcoming tournament.