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Love's Labor Lost at FIFA 2022?

As the month of November draws to a close, the entire world is sitting, watching arguably the most widely followed sports competition under the sun. The quadrennial Fifa World Cup. Yet, like many other sporting events, the World Cup has been plagued with controversies, and I believe it’s time for the US to step up.

In total, 1.2 million soccer fans are anticipated to travel to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, which will be the first time in the tournament's 92-year history that it is held in a Middle Eastern country. The leader of the Persian Gulf state insists that all of those guests are welcome. Yet, are they really?

In Qatar, sexual acts of male homosexuality are illegal - with prison terms of up to three years as potential punishment. If the so-called offender(s) were to be Muslims, they are likely to be further tried under sharia law and if convicted, await capital punishment! The tournament's organizer, FIFA, has rejected requests by several teams to show their support for the LGBTQ supporters. Seven different soccer teams from Europe have ultimately decided that their captains won't wear OneLove armbands in Qatar after the group was warned with dire consequences. Any captain or player found donning the pride armband will face consequences such as an immediate yellow card, which could prove detrimental to a team’s success.

The USA, and more specifically the Biden administration, has been very vocal about supporting the LGBTQ+ population, for one’s sexual orientation and sexual identity should not define their rights. Yet, I believe it’s time for Team USA to stand up and make a statement at the World Cup. The USA has a unique opportunity to be a catalyst for change, and if they step up, perhaps other nations will stand with it in defiance against FIFA’s blatantly obvious anti-LGBTQ stance.

The US men’s team have been showing their support for the LGBTQ community by way of a rainbow-themed logo at their training facility in Qatar. The deisgn features seven rainbow-themed vertical stripes below “USA” in dark blue. It is part of our “Be the Change” campaign the team adopted back in 2020 to inspire action on social justice issues. However, the players are not wearing the rainbow badge during the games - bowing to pressure from Qatar and in turn, FIFA. I believe that’s where we have an opportunity to step up. When we are on the world stage at a place like Qatar, it is crucial to bring awareness to issues like LGBTQ rights.

Soccer fans across the globe should be allowed to enjoy the beautiful sport, and it’s time the Biden Administration takes a stance with the brave European Nations. It’s time to support our fellow Hyphenated-Americans.

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