England forward Beth Mead said she will not support the men’s World Cup in Qatar due to the country’s discriminatory anti-gay laws.
This year’s tournament has been marred with controversy since it was announced that it would take place in the Gulf state, where homosexuality is illegal and LGBTQ+ people are persecuted.
Mead told BBC Radio 4 that the ban on homosexuality is “the complete opposite to what I believe and respect.”
“It’s not something I will be backing or promoting,” she continued. “It’s disappointing in the sense that there’s no respect on a lot of levels, even though it’s a game of football.”
Her comments come not long after the Human Rights Watch reported cases of LGBTQ+ people being detained and subjected to “ill-treatment in detention” in Qatar as recently as last month.
There were at least six cases of “severe and repeated beatings” reported, as well as five incidences of “sexual harassment in police custody between 2019 and 2022.”
Quote of the day, from @Rasha__Younes
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) October 24, 2022
This is despite the Football Association assuring fans that they will not face arrest for kissing or holding hands in public at the World Cup in November.
“Although I’m cheering for the boys who are going to play football there, from the minute it was announced I thought it wasn’t the best idea,” Mead added. “We’re in the 21st century and you fall in love with who you fall in love with. It doesn’t matter who they are.”
The footballer is currently in a relationship with her Arsenal teammate Vivianne Miedema and explained that she has never felt the need to hide it.
“In the men’s game they feel they have to make a statement of the situation,” she stated. “It’s been a culture, and that culture needs to shift. Is it a generation thing? Is it a culture thing in the game? I would love to help try and bridge that gap to just try and make it the norm.”
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will take place from 20 November – 18 December this year.