A interview with a Qatar World Cup ambassador was cut short after Khalid Salman claimed homosexuality was ‘damage in the mind’.
The tournament begins in less than a fortnights’ time with the Gulf State’s record on human rights firmly under the microscope.
Addressing the issue of homosexuality, Salman, speaking to German TV, said: ‘They have to accept our rules here.
‘(Homosexuality) is haram. You know what haram (forbidden) means?.’
When asked why it was haram, Salman said: ‘I am not a strict Muslim but why is it haram? Because it is damage in the mind.’
The interview, that was due to air in full later on Tuesday, was then immediately stopped by an accompanying official.
FIFA wrote to all competing nations last week and urged those taking part to stick to football and avoid becoming embroiled in political issues, with Qatar’s stance on homosexuality, which is illegal and punishable with a jail sentence of up to seven years, under particular scrutiny.
The world governing body is yet to respond to Salman’s aborted interview, but former president, the disgraced Sepp Blatter, recently cleared of fraud charges by a Swiss court in July following a £1.7m payment to the former Uefa president Michel Platini, admits selecting Qatar to play host was an error.
‘The choice of Qatar was a mistake,’ Blatter said. ‘At the time, we actually agreed in the executive committee that Russia should get the 2018 World Cup and the USA that of 2022.
‘It would have been a gesture of peace if the two long-standing political opponents had hosted the World Cup one after the other.
‘It’s too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that.’
Asked if he felt responsible for the decision, Blatter replied: ‘For me it is clear: Qatar is a mistake.
‘The choice was bad. What I’m wondering: why is the new Fifa president [Gianni Infantino] living in Qatar?
‘He can’t be the head of the local World Cup organisation. That’s not his job. There are two organising committees for this – a local one and one from Fifa.’
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