Russia’s 2018 World Cup: Putin’s gay problem isn’t going away after the 2014 Olympics

Russia’s gay problem isn’t going away after the 2014 Winter Olympics.  Russia is also hosting soccer’s World Cup in 2018.  And if Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks the gay thorn in his side is going after after next February’s Olympics, he’s sorely mistaken.

Yesterday I reported on a delicious series of articles from AP and Reuters about how the head of the Sochi (Russia) Olympics is begging the International Olympic Committee to make the mean gays stop.  As you may recall, there’s been a groundswell of international concern over the past two months about Russia’s crackdown against its gay and trans citizens, and specifically concern about the country’s draconian new anti-gay “propaganda” law and its use against athletes, guests and media attending the Winter Olympics next February.

That concern has now reached Olympic sponsors, according to the IOC’s marketing chief.

Apparently, Coke and McDonald’s might not want someone wearing their logo while being abducted, beaten, tortured and forced to drink urine before they’re raped with a bottle, set on fire, and left to die.

Soccer via  Shutterstock.

Soccer via

Back to FIFA, the international soccer body.  Russia is hosting the 2018 World Cup.  And while some thought Vladimir Putin simply had to wait out the gays, by getting through the 2014 Olympics, before the world’s fixation on his gay fixation would finally wane, it now seems that Putin’s gay problem won’t be going away any time soon.

As a reader just pointed out to me, while soccer is only one of many sports in America (and I’d argue it’s treated as a b-list sport by much of the American public, which focuses much more on football, baseball, basketball and hockey), in the rest of the world, soccer (or as they call it, football), is #1.  To the rest of the world, and to many soccer-loving Americans, the World Cup is the Olympics.

Of course, Qatar, the World Cup host in 2022, is even more homophobic than Putin’s Russia.  And while Putin’s cronies have been trying to defend their homophobia by claiming that Qatar is even worse on gay rights than Russia – and it is – that’s a bit like George Zimmerman claiming that David Duke has an even bigger problem with blacks, so it wipes the slate clean.  Yeah, not so much.

(Keep in mind that in 2010, FIFA President Sepp Blatter gave gay athletes his solution to Qatar’s “throw your gay ass in jail” law – just don’t have sex.  From what I hear about the Olympics, that suggestion would hardly pass muster, and I suspect the situation at the World Cup is the same.)

The lesson here for Vladimir Putin, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar, and any prospective gay-hating government or corporation, is that we’re a tenacious and bitchy people, and we’re not going away.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • Will

    And why are gay events still taking Russian-affiliated sponsors???? I thought there was a boycott in the works??? This needs a spotlight!!!

  • Anonymous

    Cheap labor is the goal.

  • htfd

    Good God no. Wish I had the answers, I don’t. I can only voice what I feel. Is Russia wrong, yes, but so are many people in the US and every where else that judges any person on what I feel is faulty criteria…religion, sexual preference and color of skin, etc. To me the criminal activity of African countries that punish by death is by far the worst. This is was introduce by US ‘devoted’ Christians. That’s where I put my efforts, as limited as they are. I hope this makes sense to you.

  • FLL

    There are also calls from soccer teams (in Britain, for instance) to move the 2018 World Cup from Russia because of racist harassment of black players by Russian fans. Here is a link describing how black players from other countries are subjected to “monkey chants” and Russian fans showing up wearing Ku Klux Klan masks:

  • Right. So we shouldn’t do anything about the draconian oppression of gay and trans people, including officially-sanctioned violence (at least tacitly sanctioned), because gay people can’t marry in New Jersey, and there still is racism in America, even though we do have a black president so one could argue that things have improved slightly since slavery.

  • I am assuming Moscow will not be hosting the Gay Games anytime soon.

  • htfd

    Be truthful, has it gone gone away in the US. No, and neither has racism.

  • Yep. I think she has done some Pulitzer level reporting, but continues to disappoint on GLTBQ issues. I can understand that several millions a year in salary is a major factor. And yes them down bots don’t likes em some Rachel criticism.

  • Luke James

    I remember when she had that vile Ugandan M,P, Behati who’s behind the kill the gays bill there , she was so polite to him it made me sick . At no time did she call him out on his obvious lies , he said he had evidence that gays were going into Ugandan schools and recruiting kid’s . She let him get away with saying I’ll send you the info latter ( which he of cause never did , at least she said that ). A good reporter would not have let him off the hook that easy, but she did . A good reporter would have said you new you had this interview so why did you not bring it with you and all so do you think American’s are as dumb as Ugandan’s believing any garbage that some priest said .

  • jomicur

    Well, give her credit. She and Chris Hayes did share a hearty laugh at the expense of those of us who are actually doing something.

    I remember when Maddow’s show first aired. One of her first interviews was with Mike Huckabee, and she didn’t ask him one question about his foaming-at-the-mouth anti-gay rhetoric–not one question, much less actually grilling him on the subject. I said at the time that she’s a careerist, not to be trusted, and and got roundly raked over the coals for my trouble. The fact that she’s so clearly toeing NBC’s corporate line on the Olympics reinforces what I said. big time. She has done some very good reporting, on a number of issues, but never on anything her corporate masters light find…er…distasteful.

  • Absolutely WOW. Keith is back and socks it to the IOC and Putie. Meanwhile Mz Maddow, who wasted no time in scrambling over her old mentor’s back to climb to the top ratings at MSNBC has remained mute. America’s most well know Lesbian, a journalist with exceptional skills and a powerful influence on American viewers has said zilch, nadda, zip, about the anti GLTBQ pogroms in Russia and the IOC. Guess, she didn’t get the final teachings about integrity and human rights reporting from her old teacher.

  • nicho

    Putin is not widely loved in Russia. His biggest support comes from the Orthodox church and the skinhead thugs. That’s who he’s playing to. He needs them to stay in power. So, he’s willing to deal with international hatred.

  • Yeah, not very smart to telegraph your loyalties that obviously. :)

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    The fact that Weir chose to wear a Russian soldier’s uniform is what disturbs me.

  • kingstonbears

    Brilliant, absolutely brilliant, as usual.

  • I heard the always fun Johnny Weir made an appearance on Olbermann last night and wasn’t great, as always

  • nicho

    The Qatar cup is doubly horrendous — first, the anti-gay laws in the country. But also, the temperatures in Qatar during the time when the games will be played can top 120 degrees F. FIFA realizes the colossal blunder there and wants to move the games to the winter — but that would screw up the very complicated soccer schedules around the world for three years. A lot of people are pissed off by all of the above.

  • cole3244

    i wonder how long espn will allow keith o to do what he does well, tell it like it is, something america and its elites have a problem with.
    by the way imo keith is one of those left of center trouble making radicals you hear about but never see or hear, at least for long.
    thanks keith, its good to have you back.

  • jomicur

    For anyone who hasn’t seen it, last night Keith Olbermann made the strongest public statement yet in the mainstream about the Sochi Olympics. Even though he’s been relegated to covering sports, Olbermann is still in fine form.

  • I concur: This is exactly what needs to happen.

    1. Go after the Olympics sponsors — and the sponsors for every other international sport looking to hold major events in countries where LGBTs are actively oppressed.
    2. Go after the international sporting organizations that are blatantly ignoring their own “tolerance and acceptance” charters, just because countries like Russia and Qatar are able to come up with bigger bribes.

  • S1AMER

    FIFA has been making some efforts in recent years — not always successful — to go after teams for homophobia behavior by their fans. Yes, homophobia most definitely will continue to be a thorn in Putin’s side (just look, next time he takes off his shirt, and you’re sure to see that rainbow thorn!).

    I still think Putin hadn’t the foggiest idea what an international hornet’s nest he’d stir up when he went on his institutionalized-homophobia jag. Sure, he knew he’d give a large segment of the populace a minority to hate even more and, definitely, he knew going after the gays would pull the clergy even closer. But I really don’t think he even remotely imagined the rest of the world would notice!

    So, everybody, continue to annoy him, and urge governments and sports’ organizations and everybody else to keep on his case!

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