Qatar World Cup ambassador says being gay is 'damage in the mind'

Ex-footballer Khalid Salman told a German public broadcaster that being gay is 'haram'

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An interview with an ambassador for the World Cup in Qatar was cut short after he described homosexuality as "damage in the mind".

Two weeks before the tournament kicks off in the Gulf state, ex-footballer Khalid Salman told a German public broadcaster that being gay is "haram", or forbidden in Arabic.

Mr Salman is heard saying in the interview that he has an issue with children seeing gay people.

In moments of a television interview shown on ZDF's Heute Journal, Mr Salman is heard saying that homosexuality is "spiritual harm".

The World Cup's host nation has attracted widespread criticism.
The World Cup's host nation has attracted widespread criticism.

He said: "During the World Cup, many things will come here to the country. Let's talk about gays.

"The most important thing is, everybody will accept that they come here. But they will have to accept our rules."

When questioned on why it was haram, Mr Salman states: "I am not a strict Muslim but why is it haram? Because it is damage in the mind."

An organiser from the World Cup organising committee is then reported to have cut the interview abruptly.

Around 1.2 million international visitors are expected to visit Qatar for the tournament, which has garnered widespread criticism after it was selected as the host nation in 2010.

It comes as former FIFA president Sepp Blatter admitted it was “a mistake” to award the 2022 World Cup finals to Qatar.

The build-up to the tournament, which starts later this month, has also been marred by allegations that migrant workers in Qatar have been poorly treated.

Blatter was president of world football’s governing body when the 2022 finals were controversially awarded to Qatar in 2010.

The 86-year-old told Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger: “The choice of Qatar was a mistake.

“At the time, we actually agreed in the (FIFA) Executive Committee that Russia should get the 2018 World Cup and the USA that of 2022.

“It would have been a gesture of peace if the two long-standing political opponents had hosted the World Cup one after the other.”

Blatter said he had voted for the United States and that former UEFA president Michel Platini had helped turn the vote in Qatar’s favour.

World Cup organisers did not immediately comment.