Thu, Aug 15, 2013 - Page 19 News List

World Cup 2014: FIFA asks Moscow to clarify impact of anti-gay law


Soccer world governing body FIFA echoed the International Olympic Committee by calling on Russia to clarify an anti-gay law that has led to protests against the host of next year’s Winter Olympics and the 2018 World Cup.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month signed a law enacting a ban and maximum fine of 1 million rubles (US$30,438) on “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors.”

Foreign citizens charged under the law face 15 days in jail and deportation.

On Aug. 1, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the law will be enforced during next year’s Winter Games, which start on Feb. 7 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Four years later, Russia will host the World Cup, international sport’s most-watched event.

FIFA, the Zurich, Switzerland-based federation that governs soccer, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday that it has asked the Russian authorities for clarification and more details on this new law.

The World Cup is worth about US$5 billion through sales of television and marketing rights, as well as income generated by the local hosts for the quadrennial event.

FIFA expects that all guests in a World Cup host country, whether they are fans, players, officials or media, experience a great World Cup irrespective of their sexual orientation, the organization said.

The law has sparked global controversy, from calls for a boycott of the Sochi Games by British actor Stephen Fry to gay bars in the US dumping Russian vodka. US President Barack Obama criticized the law, saying he had no patience for countries that try to treat gays, lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful.

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