Why highlighting FIFA’s awful actions was so important in fulfilling the continuing work of promoting Liberal Democrat values and principles

I was very pleased and proud that our motion regarding FIFA received overwhelming support at ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe) Council in Bratislava earlier this month.

As the author of this motion, I wasn’t absolutely sure how much this issue would resonate amongst our sister parties, for  as a very passionate LGBTQI+ football  fan, I had felt  extremely let down by the staging of this World Cup,  in all  aspects of human rights, and to the  extent, that the LGBTQ+ issue was  the major factor.

However  the treatment of migrants workers and women only added to the  need for FIFA  to review its World Cup bidding processes,  to align with Global Human rights. I along with many other members of the LGBTQI+ community  boycotted the event, which meant I watched the least amount of games since the my first  World Cup in 1986,  at  age of seven. That’s how strongly I and many others  felt that this was not the right place to hold a FIFA World Cup and I stand by that position.

However, I was  more than delighted that ALDE party  chose to lead with this motion as one of their communication emails to all ALDE party members –  only further highlighting the work Liberal Democrats are doing to raise issues – specifically LGBTQ+ related issues –  on the international stage.  It was  especially poignant in Bratislava,  that following the murder of two young members of the Local LGBTQI+ community outside a gay bar in the city centre in October, we collaborated on a further  motion, which was unanimously endorsed by all our sister parties,  recognising and calling on them to  enact legislation combatting  LGBTQI+ hate crimes.

The ALDE communication can be found here and links directly to policy going forward, whereby all ALDE parties agree that the hosting of major sporting events should take into account human rights in the bidding processes. Never again should we be  left in the position, where a country can dictate to FIFA and the rest of the word by refusing to acknowledge human rights including LGBTQ+ human rights.

In the case of Qatar it was  made worse by the u-turn announced just before the first matches started, regarding the wearing of armbands by the team captains in support of  LGBTQI+ rights – which instead of fining the national teams could have resulted in individual players being sent off and missing important matches. In addition the subsequent actions by  the police of removing LGBTQ+ coloured clothes,  confiscating phones with rainbow stickers, leading in some circumstances to full strip searches of  individual fans just for the crime of wearing rainbow coloured tops, should never be allowed to happen again at a major sporting event. It was a disgrace and for those of us, who are enthusiastically vocal LGBTQ+ football fans, this was a disheartening way to finish 2022,  especially when over the course of this  year, there has been such positive news-  notably with the openly gay Blackpool footballer Jake Daniels coming out in May.

Sport can’t hide itself away and pretend not to be political when human rights are at stake.




* Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett is Secretary of the Federal International Relations Committee (FIRC) and Vice Chair Of Communications for LDEG ( Liberal Democrat European Group)

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One Comment

  • It is useful to compare Qatar with England in 1966 and how the UK public and authorities would have reacted to the display of such symbols…
    We’ve come a long way, admittedly it has taken much effort, but if it were easy…
    So I think we are falling into the class change management trap where the leaders don’t appreciate or understand why others aren’t at the same state-of-mind as themselves. So Whilst we should complain, we should also cajole. So is the wording of this motion one of censor or cajole?

    Personally, currently I’m more appalled at the continued suppression of the rights of circa 50% of the worlds population, with recent events in Afghanistan providing just another example. I suggest if nations are not prepared to treat those born female as equal members of society then its practically a lost cause championing the rights of circa 3%.

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