Russia To Host FIFA World Cup In 2018, Officials Already Being Questioned About Anti-Gay Laws

FIFA 2018The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi could prove just the start of the anxiety and frustration already plaguing LGBT athletes, sports fans, and supporters across the globe. Russia is currently set to host FIFA's World Cup soccer tournament in 2018, and Russia 2018's CEO, Alexey Sorokin, is already being grilled with questions.

Sorokin recently gave an interview to World Football Insider, in which he defended Russia's anti-gay laws as "largely misinterpreted." "It is designed against active propaganda of homosexuality, not against homosexuality itself. That is a big difference," he argued. Of course, those committing acts of homophobic violence or luring gay teens on the internet don't seem to be making the same convenient distinction between homosexuality and "propaganda". He assures gay participants in the upcoming tournament that, as long as they keep their private lives to themselves, "they have nothing more to fear." He also adds that:

"They have guarantees and assurances that they will not be affected. The minister of sport [Vitaly Mutko] has given a full and detailed explanation. It would be strange to see someone choose such an event as the Olympic Games as a stage to propogate these ideas. We suppose people come to participate or to watch and be part of it not to display their views. Private life should remain private." 

Alexey-sorokinSo you're allowed to be gay, just not in any sort of public way…

"Would you like a World Cup where naked people are running around displaying their homosexuality? The answer to that is quite obvious."

The answer might not be as "obvious" as you think. But still, wait for it…

"The Olympics and World Cup are not a stage for various views… not for Nazis, not for any other ways of life. It should be about football and nothing else."

…and there it is. Obviously, this comparison of LGBT people to Nazis hasn't sat well with a host of groups and entities, including FIFA, who asked for greater clarification regarding the law, according to National Post. Unfortunately, the organizers behind Russia 2018 must have given them the answers they were looking for. FIFA said in a statement that:

"Russia has committed to provide all visitors and fans with a warm welcome and ensure their safety. FIFA trusts that the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts will deliver on this promise."

Before anyone gets too anxious, though, know that FIFA's policies towards discrimination are substantially broader than those currently being used by the International Olympic Commission. Article 3 of its statutes clearly state that:

“Discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”

FIFa StadiumThus, at least FIFA seems better poised at present to protect its LGBT athletes, coaches, and spectators from Russia's incredibly anti-gay climate. There is no doubt, however, that Sochi's WInter Olympic Games will set some sort of precedent for the World Cup.

It is also worth mentioning that FIFA has already awarded its 2022 World Cup tournament to Qatar, another country with anti-gay laws on the books. Thus, the ripple effects of the 2014 Olympics will almost certainly be felt for years and years to come.


  1. says

    I loathe what Russia is doing and neither the Olympics nor World cup should be there

    But FIFA has already approved Qatar for the World Cup 2022 – a nation where gay men can be flogged for being gay. It seems like a hollow PR move to question Russia when it’s clear they’re happy to support even more homophobic locations

  2. andrew says

    These primitive Russian authorities don’t seem to understand or pretend not to understand, that in most civilized countries most LGBT people no longer live their lives in a closet. They live out and public lives just like there straight brothers and sisters. That means, among other things, that they share their lives and life stories with those around them. That’s not gay propaganda, its living your life as others do.

  3. Ricky says

    Russian government should go over the Gay Laws because being a gay or lesbian is not a sin. I know many Russian gay people over the Internet and they really suffer the fact of hiding their feelings. Uncle Putin, please take a look at the Russian anti-gay laws for a fair treating to all Russian people. Lets be fair to everyone!

  4. Fox says

    And FIA should stop any plans of holding a Formula 1 Grand Prix Race for the innaugural Russian Grand Prix in Sochi next year. FIA stopped holding races in South Africa over apartheid from 1986 – 1991. This race still isn’t set in stone, so some pressure should be put on the corporate teams and sponsors.

  5. Macmantoo says

    Yet one of Soccer’s biggest push is discriminate and yet they’re letting their Host country do just that. I guess Equality is only a saying for the Soccer organization.

  6. Macmantoo says

    Sorry that should be “Yet one of Soccer’s biggest push is DON’T DISCRIMINATE and yet they’re letting their Host country do just that. I guess Equality is only a saying for the Soccer Organization.

  7. Bill says

    It might be hard for the IOC to move the Winter Olympics given how little time there is before the event, but the World Cup is not subject to that constraint – they have 4 more years.

    That puts Russia in a bind – if they heavily crack down on gays at the Winter Olympics by arresting athletes and visitors for something as innocuous as holding hands, or someone getting a kiss after winning an event, the people planning for the World Cup in 2018 will certainly notice, and Putin will have to consider that to be a risk factor if he wants to have the World Cup held in Russia.

  8. Rafael says

    As football fan, this is very disappointing. How can a Country host anything with such an unwelcoming attitude? People aren’t posters, Russia get a grip.

    BTW, that logo lacks color and imagination, it is the worse I’ve seen so far.

  9. Brent says

    Use of red slash in graphic and size of numerals make the logo appropriate for a Russian event. The image and digits are subliminally sliced up.

  10. says

    I hope something big happens in Sochi to showcase Russia’s monstrosity against gay people and to serve as warnings to future international sport competitions.

  11. circuitmouse says

    That in the original ancient Olympic games for over a thousand years all competitors were nude is immaterial and irrelevant to the Russians.

    Of course, they didn’t hold any winter games…

  12. circuitmouse says

    That in the original ancient Olympic games for over a thousand years all competitors were nude is immaterial and irrelevant to the Russians.

    Of course, they didn’t hold any winter games…

  13. candideinnc says

    The cultural blindness of the Russians isn’t altogether surprising. They have no history of accepting freedom of speech. Their history is one of controlled speech–in journalism and in public expression. So when their biases and bigotry are challenged by public demonstrations such as gay pride marches, spectacles they find distasteful, they feel perfectly entitled to repress through legislation. Until they can distinguish between free and open debate with unpopular minority views and “propaganda,” they will not be part of the western community of nations.

  14. says

    You’ve gotta love how these organizations keep asking for clarification, giving Russia yet ONE MORE CHANCE to say something that could be construed favorably.

    And every time, Russia is clear as a bell: they plan on enforcing their anti-gay law. ANY publicly given indication that someone is of “non-traditional sexual orientation” — such as wearing an LGBT pin, holding hands with a same-gender partner, or even mentioning a same-gender partner — could be interpreted as propaganda to children, and therefore punishable under the law.

    It’s easy enough to see that the IOC and FIFA do not have the spine it would take to tell Russia that it will not be permitted to host any event in which some participants will be treated differently than others and be expected to tolerate extra restrictions on behavior and speech.

  15. Rayne Wooney says

    “As football fan, this is very disappointing. How can a Country host anything with such an unwelcoming attitude?”

    You must not be that big of a football fan as the 2018 World Cup host city has been known for nearly 3 years.

    FIFA selected Russia BEFORE these anti-gay laws were passed. It is entirely reasonable that they are asking for clarification since they were just passed a few months and have yet to be demonstrably enforced. I imagine FIFA will be watching the Sochi Games closely.

    The good news about the World Cup is that there’s plenty of time to move it to another city, such as the runner-up bid, Spain/Portugal.

  16. Joel V says

    Ugh. Someone needs to call child services on Mother Russia. Can we organize a “Dump Russia 2018″ campaign for the World Cup? San Francisco 2018 World Cup bid?

  17. ratbastard says


  18. Paul says

    Andy Towlette: Don’t be an ambulance chaser. The big event might be discovering how unpopular gays are.

  19. louis says

    I am interested in “hooking-up” at the Sochi Olympics and at the World Cup in 2018. Lets post a few pics and a plce to meet while never intending to be there at all.

    Drive the Ruskis wild…. Make dinner reservations at the best restaurants and then never show…..

    Ask the best hotels for rates and rooms the cancel….. continusly…..

    Call the IOC and USOC and request how they will make their heard.

  20. Jerry6 says

    Since the efforts by both the IOC and USOC are to throw Gays “Under the Truck”, just to please Russia, I have no intention of watching the Olympics on Television because many of the “Best in Class” for many events should be Gays. Why watch “Alsorans” ONLY?