Fifa media chief: ‘I’m sitting here in Qatar as gay’

“I’m sitting here in Qatar as a gay person,” Fifa media relations director Bryan Swanson said on Saturday on the eve of the start of the 2022 World Cup in the small emirate, where the homosexuality is criminalized.

At the end of FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s long press conference, which Bryan Swanson hosted at the podium, the latter took the floor to defend his boss, victim in his eyes of “criticism” coming “in particular from the LGBTQ+ community”.

“I would like to say something using this platform,” said the Briton. “I sit here in Qatar in a privileged position, in front of the whole world, as a gay man,” he said.

The Scottish leader said he believed Doha’s assurances that all visitors, regardless of sexual orientation, would be “welcome”.

“We have received assurances that everyone is welcome and I believe that everyone is welcome in this World Cup”, he continued, on the eve of the start of the tournament on Sunday, with Qatar-Ecuador.

The Qatari organizers of the World Cup have ensured for several years that members of the LGBTQ+ community will be welcomed without discrimination during the tournament, despite laws criminalizing homosexuality and sexual relations outside marriage.

“I thought long and hard about whether to share this or not”

An assurance reaffirmed on Saturday by Gianni Infantino: “If someone says the opposite, it is not the opinion of the country, and it is not the opinion of Fifa”, declared the Italian-Swiss leader .

The latter had started his speech with a long anaphora, very theatrical, saying he felt “Qatari”, Arab”, “African”, “gay”, “disabled”, “migrant worker”…

“It’s not because Gianni is not gay that he does not care about this question”, still defended Bryan Swanson, former reporter for Sky Sports who became in 2021 director of media relations for Fifa.

“I thought long and hard about whether to share this or not,” he said. “At Fifa, we care about everyone. We are an inclusive organization. I have a number of gay colleagues. I am fully aware of the debate and I fully respect the right of others to think differently. I understand. But I also know what we are fighting for.”

OUR FILE ON THE WORLD

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