World Cup organizers expect a total of 1.2 million fans to descend on Qatar for the 2022 soccer tournament — the first time it has been hosted in a Middle East nation in the event’s 92-year history. Every single one of those visitors, the Persian Gulf state’s ruler insists, is welcome.
But for LGBTQ fans, that may not be immediately obvious. Same-sex sexual activities are punishable in Qatar with a prison sentence and potentially — although it is never known to have been carried out — even capital punishment.
FIFA, which organizes the tournament, has pushed back on attempts by some teams to show their support for LGBTQ fans. Soccer teams representing seven European nations ultimately decided that their captains won’t wear OneLove rainbow armbands in Qatar after the organization said players sporting the bands would be penalized.
There also appeared to be confusion over the rules for public displays of LGBTQ identity in the tournament’s opening days, when multiple fans reported that officials tried to prevent them entering stadiums while they were wearing rainbow-themed bucket hats and shirts.
Here’s our quick guide to what LGBTQ soccer fans visiting Qatar can expect.