Blatter sorry for 'gay' comments17 December 2010

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has apologised for saying gay fans should “refrain from sexual activity” if they go to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and Blatter's original comments provoked outrage among gay rights groups who said he should apologise or resign.

Blatter said: “It was not my intention and never will be my intention to go into any discrimination.

“If somebody feels hurt, then I regret [it] and present apologies.”

Blatter sparked the controversy when, earlier this week, he apparently joked: “I'd say they [gay fans] should refrain from any sexual activities” if they go to the Gulf Nation for the 2022 tournament.

Then, speaking seriously, he said he was sure there would be no problems.

Fifa has come in for criticism after making the decision to take the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time.

Concerns were raised about hosting the tournament during the summer months in a country where
and where current laws mean drinking alcohol in public is forbidden.

Gay groups are also worried about the acceptance of homosexual fans, and the
say Blatter's original comments

Former British basketball star John Amaechi, who is one of the world's most high-profile gay athletes, was also critical of Blatter's original comments, telling BBC Radio 5 live that it was the most childish response he could imagine.

However, Blatter, who is in Abu Dhabi for the Club World Cup, does not foresee any difficulties, saying: “You see in the Middle East the opening of this culture, it's another culture because it's another religion, but in football we have no boundaries.

“We open everything to everybody and I think there shall not be any discrimination against any human beings be it on this side or that side, be it left, right or whatever.

“If they want to watch a match somewhere in Qatar 2022, I'm sure they will be admitted to such matches.”

Qatar was the surprise winner of the race to host the 2022 World Cup, beating Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States when the 22-man Fifa executive committee
in Zurich on 2 December.