FAW 'considering safe houses' for women and LGBTQ+ fans heading to World Cup in Qatar

Women and LGBTQ+ fans heading to the Football World Cup in Qatar could be offered "safe houses" according to the Football Association Wales. 

It comes as an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 Welsh supporters are expected to travel to Doha to watch the FIFA World Cup, but with the competition less than two weeks away, concerns remain about the safety of women and LGBTQ+ fans.

Jason Webber said despite the Qatari Government offering assurances, the FAW "cannot guarantee" it

Speaking to S4C’s current affairs programme, Y Byd ar Bedwar about the safety of LGBTQ+ supporters at the tournament, Jason Webber, Senior Equality, Diversity, Inclusion & Integrity Manager at the FAW said, “We’ve put many questions to the supreme committee and the Qatari Government.

"They are very firm on this stance that everyone is welcome and safe, however we can’t guarantee that as a national association.

 “There are discussions ongoing for having almost a safe house area for women or those in the LGBTQ community, but it’s just providing as much information for those fans who are travelling.”

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar Credit: PA

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and same-sex sexual activity is prohibited under the Penal Code 2004 with a maximum penalty of seven years in jail.

 The decision to host the 29-day tournament in the country has been widely criticised, with reports of a number of FAW staff not attending the event due to the country’s LGBTQ+ rights.

It comes as the FAW said the Welsh football players will be free to speak out about issues like migrant worker abuses and LGBTQ+ rights during the tournament.

Wales manager, Rob Page, also said the team captain will wear the 'One Love' armband in support of LGBTQ+ rights, regardless of whether Fifa officially approve it.

While Qatari officials have stated that the law on homosexuality will not change, the police in the Gulf state have been instructed to be tolerant. The Football Association have assured LGBTQ+ fans that they will not be arrested for showing public displays of affection or waving rainbow flags during the tournament. 

A spokesperson for the Supreme Committee, the body set up by the State of Qatar to organise the tournament, said: “We have always said that this is a World Cup for all. Everyone is welcome – regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality – and we’re excited to introduce the world to Qatar’s rich Arab culture and traditions.”

 A spokesperson by FIFA said: “Qatar as a host country is fully aware of its responsibility to adhere to FIFA’s expectations and requirements on human rights, equality and non-discrimination.

"Qatar is committed to ensuring that everyone will be able to enjoy the tournament in a safe and welcoming environment, to building bridges of cultural understanding and to creating an inclusive experience for all participants and attendees, including members of the LGBTIQ+ community.

Wales will play the USA in their first match of the group stages on 21 November.