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Qatar World Cup ambassador says homosexuality is ‘damage in the mind’

About 1.2 million international visitors are expected for the monthlong tournament, which has faced criticism and skepticism ever since the gas-rich emirate was selected as host.

BERLIN — An ambassador for the World Cup in Qatar has described homosexuality as a “damage in the mind” in an interview with German public broadcaster ZDF just two weeks before the opening of the global soccer tournament in the Gulf state.

Former Qatari national soccer player Khalid Salman told a German reporter in an interview that being gay is “haram,” or forbidden in Arabic, and that he has a problem with children seeing gay people.

Excerpts of the television interview were shown Monday night on ZDF’s news program Heute Journal. The full interview, which is part of a documentary, will be shown Tuesday night on ZDF.

About 1.2 million international visitors are expected in Qatar for the month-long tournament, which has faced criticism and skepticism ever since the gas-rich emirate was selected as host by FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, in December 2010. Concerns about the conservative country’s treatment of homosexuals living in the country as well as LGBTQ tourists attending the World Cup have also been expressed for a long time.

In the interview, Salman also said that homosexuality “is a spiritual harm.”

Image: FBL-WC-2022-STADIUM-KHALIFA
The Khalifa Stadium in Doha on Nov. 6, 2022, ahead of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP - Getty Images

“During the World Cup, many things will come here to the country. Let’s talk about gays,” Salman said in English, which is simultaneously dubbed into German in the TV segment.

“The most important thing is, everybody will accept that they come here. But they will have to accept our rules,” he added.

The interview was cut short by a press officer of the World Cup organizing committee after Salman expressed his views on homosexuals, ZDF reported.