Blatter: Gay fans 'should refrain' in Qatar

Published Dec. 14, 2010 1:07 a.m. EST

FIFA boss Sepp Blatter said Monday gay soccer fans "should refrain from any sexual activities" when attending the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

The president of soccer's international governing body was speaking at a press conference in South Africa arranged to discuss the legacy of this year's tournament.

He was asked what he would say to gay fans who want to go to Qatar for the 2022 competition, given that homosexuality is banned there.

"I would say they should refrain from any sexual activities," he said.


He went on to insist that he believed discrimination would not be an issue in Qatar by 2022, adding, "we are living in a world of freedom."

His remarks came as supermarket chain Morrisons wrote a letter to FIFA about the £1 million ($1.5 million) it contributed to the England 2018 bid, which was lost in a process Morrisons described as "unfair."

Chief executive Dalton Philips called on Blatter to "do the honorable thing" by handing over the equivalent sum to charity.

Philips said he believes England did not ever have a hope of winning the competition, in light of FIFA's comment that the World Cup finals "should go to new lands."

In a statement, Morrisons said it was disappointed on behalf of its customers that the merits of the England bid were not recognized by FIFA, "which clearly was intent on locating the 2018 World Cup in an emerging country.

"As we think the decision-making process was unfair, we have instructed lawyers in Switzerland to examine our options under Swiss law," the company told Sky News.

"We hope Fifa will do the right thing and offer £1m to be invested in grassroots football."

Other top-tier sponsors of the England bid -- Umbro, communications giant BT and British Airways -- would not say whether they would seek any reimbursement for their campaign donations.

Blatter told a news conference in Johannesburg that the decision to take the World Cup to Russia and then Qatar had nothing to do with money, but was instead about the development of soccer.

"We have to go with our game somewhere where it can improve social cultural impact," he said.

Blatter described the England bid as "excellent and remarkable," but judges decided not to send the tournament back to the country for the first time since 1966.

Final results showed that out of a total of 22 votes, England gained just two, one of which was from Geoff Thompson, the vice-president of FIFA.