Respect Gay Rights: Do Not Hold the 2018 World Cup Games in Russia

FIFA World Cup match ball

Target: FIFA President Joseph Blatter

Goal: Choose a country for 2018 World Cup that protects LGBT rights

One of the world’s premier sporting events is set to take place in Sochi, Russia. The problem is that the lower chamber of the Russian parliament (Duma) recently voted to ban “gay propaganda” to children. This law puts athletes and fans in danger of being arrested and deported. It is time for FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) to take a definitive stand against homophobia and pull out of Russia to a more tolerant territory. Urge the Federation to choose a country that respects minorities’ rights.

Russia is becoming a human rights-free country. The gay gag rule passed by Duma by a 436-0 vote, with only one deputy abstaining, is expected to slide effortlessly through the upper chamber of the Parliament and to the desk of President Putin, who vowed to sign it. It will punish individuals who break the law with a fine of $3,143 and groups will be fined $31,430. Those who are non-Russian natives can be detained for up to 15 days and forced to pay the $3,143 fine. Considering that there were 23 openly gay athletes in the 2012 London Olympics, it is hard to imagine that there would not be any participating in the 2018 World Cup. Sports are supposed to be for everyone. FIFA has to stop ignoring the issue of discrimination against minorities in Russia. If it does not take a stand against homophobia, its sporting events will officially endorse exclusion.

When the President of FIFA Joseph Blatter was recently giving an interview to BBC, he said that homophobia did not warrant the same attention as racism. “I do not think it is part of racism, perhaps this is going into ethics and morals…This, I think, is not the time to bring it now. If you bring it to my attention then I should have a look on that. But I cannot give you a definite answer.”

It is time that Mr. Blatter takes a hard look at reality. If gay athletes and fans come to Russia for the World Cup in 2018, they will face discrimination and possibly even arrest and deportation. He cannot condone this situation and has to move the venue of the games before it is too late. Sign below to urge FIFA President Joseph Blatter to do just that.


Dear Mr. Blatter,

The lower chamber of the Russian Parliament just voted to ban the spread of “gay propaganda” to children. This legislation is expected to sail through the upper chamber and will be signed into law by President Putin. It will impose a fine of $3,143 for individuals and $31,430 for groups that break the law. Foreign-born people can be detained for up to 15 days and also pay the $3,143 fine.

This proposal that is all but certain to become law is bad news for the LGBT community; however, another bill making its way in the Duma would punish those who “offend religious feelings of the faithful”.  Under this legislation displays of homosexuality in public or the dissemination of homosexual “propaganda” would be illegal. The punishment would be arrest and three years in prison for Russians, and arrest and deportation for foreigners if the bill were to become law.

This blatant disregard of human rights and discrimination should be a wake-up call for international sports organizations. There is a concern for gay athletes’ and gay fans’ safety. Philosophically, this inequality should have no place in sports, where everyone is welcomed and treated with dignity. Please move the World Cup to a country that respects LGBT rights and one that will protect all athletes.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Choo Yut Shing

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