World’s only openly gay active pro footballer is concerned for LGBTQ community ahead of Qatar 2022 World Cup
A Qatari footballer hopes the upcoming World Cup will give his country a cultural platform to speak out openly about sexuality and LGBTQ life.
The World Cup is still two years away and there are still plenty of homophobic issues to deal with. However, in the lead up to it, one of the more openly gay professional footballer in the Gulf region is hopeful the tournament will be able to use it as a chance to tackle the issue.
In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, former Al-Ahli Dubai, Qatar’s most successful soccer club, football star Youseff Al-Araibi spoke about his hopes for the World Cup and what he could do to tackle homophobia.
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“I think it can bring back a lot of good in the LGBTQ community and the LGBT community in general, especially from a country like Qatar, which has been so homophobic for as long as I’ve been alive.”
World Cup: A gay footballer’s outlook
Youseff Al-Araibi was an influential member of the men’s football team in Qatar before retiring at the end of the season – a period where he made more than 200 appearances in the league.
He is now an ambassador for the Qatar 2022 World Cup Committee and has spoken out about homophobia in the country, which he calls “unfriendly and very harmful”.
Al-Araibi said it is important for Qatar’s sporting infrastructure to show equality, which is one reason why it is looking towards the upcoming World Cup as an opportunity to break the stigma.
“I think the World Cup will be a good opportunity to make people realize that the LGBT community aren’t inferior to heterosexuals, and that it shouldn’t be against them to be happy and to be treated with respect.”
He added: “It is important to make people know that you shouldn’t be afraid to be who you are, and that you should be able to share happiness in all aspects of your life, even in countries like Qatar, which is very homophobic.”
Al-Araibi’s journey from being a man outed by his family to now being actively involved in support for the LGBTQ community.
“The most difficult thing is that I was a little kid