LGBT fans will be warned against overt public displays of affection when they enter Russia to spectate the World Cup next summer.
FARE — formerly Football Against Racism in Europe and now a pressure group that campaigns for equality in football — will be producing a cautionary guide and dispersed to fans travelling to the tournament.
Piara Powar, executive director of Fare, said: “The guide will advise gay people to be cautious in any place which is not seen to be welcoming to the LGBT community. The same message is there for black and ethnic minority fans — do go to the World Cup but be cautious. If you have gay fans walking down the street holding hands, will they face danger in doing so — that depends on which city they are in and the time of day.”
“The guide will also include some detailed explanations of, for example, the actual situation of the LGBT community in Russia. It is not a crime to be gay but there is a law against the promotion of homosexuality to minors. Issues relating to the LGBT community are not part of the public discourse. Gay people have a place in Russia which is quite hidden and underground.”
FARE has also appealed to FIFA officially on behalf of two fans’ groups from Britain and Germany to ask for permission to raise a rainbow flag inside stadiums during the World Cup, which begins in June next year. They have also suggest that the world governing body introduce a specific official rule whereby fans can be reprimanded under a specific charge of homophobia.
FARE’s appeals follows the court of arbitration for sport’s decision to cancel two fines imposed by FIFA on Mexico’s FA after their fans loudly chanted the Spanish word “puto” — widely known to be an anti-gay slur — during international matches. FIFA had to bring charges under general fan misbehaviour as opposed to specific homophobic abuse.
“Since the Brazil World Cup we have seen variations of that chant becoming a big thing in football,” said Powar. “There is no offence of homophobia in FIFA’s rules and we have made clear that there should be. It is critical there is a clear message about FIFA’s ability to act in these cases against the fans that are responsible.”