FIFA President Sepp Blatter announces Qatar as the host nation for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Zurich.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter announces Qatar as the host nation for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Zurich. Reuters

FIFA president Sepp Blatter sparked controversy with his response to gay rights groups' criticism of FIFA, when he joked that the gay fans travelling to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup should refrain from any sexual activities.

On a more serious note, Blatter added: I'm sure when the World Cup will be in Qatar there will be no problems.

Gay rights groups had earlier criticized FIFA for awarding the hosting rights to Qatar, as the country considers homosexuality illegal. The Gay Football Supporter's Network said at the time of Fifa's decision, We strongly condemn Fifa's decision and will be leading a LGBT (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender) boycott of all activities associated with World Cup 2022.

We do not feel the World Cup should be held in any country that abuses and disregards the basic human rights of LGBT people.

This is not the first criticism that Fifa is facing for awarding hosting rights to Qatar. When the decision was announced earlier this month, concerns were raised about the temperatures in Qatar during the summer months when the tournament is held as the heat could go up to 50C.

More questions were asked about the decision as the country's laws, currently, hold drinking alcohol in public illegal.

However, Blatter eased worries saying, You see in the Middle East the opening of this culture, it's another culture because it's another religion, but in football we have no boundaries.

We open everything to everybody and I think there shall not be any discrimination against any human beings be it on this side or that side, be it left, right or whatever. If they want to watch a match somewhere in Qatar 2022, I'm sure they will be admitted to such matches.

He went on to say that in case of any problems, there is plenty of time to sort them out. I think there is too much concern for a competition that will be done only in 12 years, he said.

But this gives me the opportunity to say that in Fifa, and this is in the statutes of Fifa, whether it is in politics, whether it is in religion, we don't want racism, and we know what this means, and neither do we want discrimination.

What we want is just to open this game to everybody and open it to all cultures and this is what we are doing in 2022.