FIFA World Cup 2018: Football world body advisers warn LGBTQ community of ‘danger’
Russian football fans are well-known for their aggression and hooliganism. Despite assurances to make travels for the visiting fans a secure experience, it remains a daunting challenge.
More so for the LGBTQ community, who have been now been warned against public displays of affection and holding hands when if they choose to visit Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. FARE, FIFA’s anti-discrimination organisation, have been tasked with combating the inequalities within football. They have stated they will produce a safety guide which will be given out to all travelling fans.
Although being gay is not a crime in Russia since it’s decriminalization in 1933, anti-gay sentiments are prevalent among locals. There have been numerous reported cases of violence against gay tourists visiting the country.
“The guide will advise gay people to be cautious in any place which is not seen to be welcoming to the LGBT community. The same message is there for black and ethnic minority fans – do go to the World Cup but be cautious. If you have gay fans walking down the street holding hands, will they face danger in doing so – that depends on which city they are in and the time of day,” the Guardian quoted Piara Powar, executive director of FARE.
FARE have also written to FIFA seeking permission on behalf of two fans’ groups to wave rainbow flags inside stadiums before the matches.
“British and German fans’ groups have asked FIFA if they are OK to raise a rainbow flag inside the stadium. FIFA has not really responded so far to say if this is something the security services will allow,” Powar said.
The organisation has also expressed its concerns over the acceptance of black and ethnic minority fans. “After years of denial about racism, the Russian FA finally taking action, the group under Alexei Smertin has been addressing the issue and fines have been issued.”
Alexei Smertin, a former Russian footballer has been appointed as the Russian Football Union’s anti-racism and discrimination inspector has already imposed fines on several offending clubs in the country.
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