Bayern Munich player Leon Goretzka condemned the statements of the ambassador of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Khaled Salman, about homosexuals, describing them as from ancient times.
The former Qatari international said homosexuality is a “mental disorder”. He called on gays traveling to Qatar, to watch the World Cup matches, to “accept our laws.”
In the match, which Bayern Munich won over Werder Bremen (6 to 1), the fans raised a banner denouncing Salman’s statements.
After the match, Goretzka spoke to the German media, saying: “These are very unfair statements, reflecting the thoughts of a man who came from ancient times.” He added, “You don’t find anything to say, when you hear such words from a man who was an ambassador for the World Cup, before the matches start.”
Salman said in an interview with ZDF channel, “Homosexuality is forbidden, and you know what is forbidden. I am not a very committed Muslim, but what is forbidden? It is a disorder of the mind.” He said these words, before one of his companions stopped the interview.
FIFA president Bernd Neuendorf said the World Cup ambassador’s comments shocked him.
He added in an interview with the German newspaper Bild: “This statement offends the entire LGBT community, and reveals a major problem in the relationship with human rights. FIFA should consider whether the Ethics Committee is authorized to take up the issue.”
Neuendorf added that he had spoken to former Aston Villa and Germany player Thomas Hitzelberger, who revealed his homosexuality in 2014.
“I spoke with Thomas on the phone about this. We both agree that the football ambassador’s comments are unacceptable and shocked.”
Salman’s statements were condemned by the human rights organization “Human Rights Watch” and the campaign to defend gay rights All Out.
The organization expressed its concern about the treatment of homosexuals in Qatar, as the law punishes the establishment of sexual relations between members of the same sex with penalties ranging from a fine to death.
The organizers of the World Cup had raised the slogan “Welcome everyone”, and no one would be discriminated against, but the Executive Director of the World Cup Organizing Committee, Nasser Al-Khater, said that the government would not change its laws on homosexuality, calling on visitors to “respect our culture.”
FIFA recently wrote to the federations participating in the World Cup, urging them to “focus on football” rather than focus on controversial issues.
The letter, signed by the president of the International Federation, Gianni Infantino, was criticized by “Human Rights Watch”, “Amnesty International”, and activists in the defense of LGBT people in England and Wales.
And 10 European federations, including the FA and Wales, said that “human rights are a universal principle that applies everywhere.”
A number of players plan to organize peaceful protests, and England captain Harry Kane, along with the leaders of other teams, including the German national team, decided to wear the “One Love” badge to support diversity and inclusion.
England women’s national team player, Beth Mead, who has come out as gay, said it was “a pity” that the World Cup would be held in Qatar.