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.
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.