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"Everyone is welcome in Qatar" - Hassan Al Thawadi allays LGBTQ+ fears ahead of 'historic' World Cup

2:49 AM GMT 20/09/2022
Al Bayt Stadium, Qatar
The 2022 World Cup is only two months away from kick-off.

WHAT HAPPENED: There have been various reports that Qatar, the hosts of the 2022 World Cup, won't be so welcoming towards LGBTQ+ fans during the tournament. These reports stem from the fact that homosexuality is illegal in Qatar. However, Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), has allayed those fears and reiterated that the country will welcome fans from all backgrounds for the 2022 World Cup.

WHAT DID HE SAY: Speaking at the Concordia Annual Summit in New York on Monday, Al Thawadi tackled the question of what LGBTQ+ section of fans can expect in Qatar by saying the World Cup was designed to bring people together.

"Everybody is welcome in Qatar. The purpose of the tournament is to being people of different values and beliefs and cultures together. Once you have a point of contact or something that unites us like a common passion (love for football), people will realise that there is room for dialogue and conversation. It goes a long way towards fighting prejudices and stereotypes.

"We (Qatar) have a set of values that we ask the world to respect. Of course, we don't believe in PDA (public display of affection). But we are also ingrained towards welcoming everyone from all backgrounds. We've hosted plenty of major events and we welcome people from different wallks of life. And such people have built their lives in Qatar. It (World Cup) is an opportunity to explore differences and more importantly, it is an opportunity to celebrate common humanity."

WHAT MORE: Al Thawadi also spoke about how such rumours and baseless fears come from the fear element of the unknown.

"It comes down to fearing the unknown. The minute human-to-human interaction happens, a spark happens. That little spark can go a long long way if we nurture it right. That is what the World Cup is for."

2022 WORLD CUP TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER: Al Thawadi went on to highlight how the first major tournament post COVID-19 that allows unrestricted access to fans will help bring the world together.

"One aspecct that rings true is that it (World Cup) brings people together. And especially at this day and age where people are at conflict with each other and even friends and family are at varying ends of the spsectrum. There is a lot of conflict and not necessarily between countries. We need more of such tournaments to bring people together and celebrate humanity.

"It is the first major event in the post COVID-19 world where people can actually celberate together. We've had a record number of ticket sales and there is huge demand. And those of who have visited the Middle-East know we are a fun loving people. The food is great. We're a welcoming region and we are hospitable people. Once you are here, you will feel at home no matter where you are from."