Football’s world governing body FIFA on Wednesday said it had asked 2018 World Cup hosts Russia to explain in more detail its controversial new law banning “homosexual propaganda” after criticism from athletes and activists.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ratified the new law in June as part of a wider political crackdown but it has cast a shadow over preparations for the World Athletics Championships, currently being held in Moscow, and next year’s Winter Olympics.
Calls have mounted for a boycott of the Games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi and even US President Barack Obama has weighed in, commenting that he opposed intimidation against gays, lesbians and transgendered people.
FIFA, whose request follows that of the International Olympic Committee last week, said its statutes and code of conduct “foresee zero tolerance against discrimination based, among other things, on sexual orientation”.
It added: “FIFA expects that all guests in a FIFA World Cup host country whether they are fans, players, officials or media, experience a great FIFA World Cup irrespective of their sexual orientation.