President Vladimir Putin signed a law last month that imposes a ban and maximum fine of 1 million rubles ($30,200) on “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors. Foreign citizens charged under the law face 15 days in jail and deportation. Earlier this month, Zurich-based FIFA called on Russia to clarify the law.
“We are waiting for this clarification, but we will for sure enter into a discussion with them and won’t accept any discrimination,” Valcke told reporters in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday (21 August). “It’s not just about the World Cup; it’s about every day.”
The comments come three weeks after Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the new law will be enforced during the 2014 Winter Games, which start Feb. 7 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Four years later Russia will host the World Cup, international sport’s most-watched event. Valcke said FIFA would “never reach the level” of changing venues, and that there is “clear discussion” with Russian authorities.
The law has sparked global outcry, from calls for a boycott of the Sochi Games by British actor Stephen Fry to gay bars in the U.S. dumping Russian vodka. American actor Harvey Fierstein compared the government’s campaign against gay and bisexual people to Nazi persecution.
At the World Athletics Championship in Moscow, Swedish high jumper Emma Green-Tregaro painted her fingernails rainbow color, a reference to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender banner. Two Russian athletes, who kissed on the podium after winning the 4×400-meter relay, denied the display was meant as political protest.
“There’s no way FIFA will give up on our principles,” Valcke said.
Later he told FIFA.com. “There are principles in the world of sport when it comes to fighting discrimination and racism. It is extremely important to us.
“We have requested clarification and will not give up on our battle against discrimination. We must safeguard different opinions, which are the right of every one of us and make our world a better place. We have been working well with Russia. There is no way that FIFA is going to renege on its principles.
“Do not ask me whether this means that FIFA can threaten to take away the World Cup. It does not. It is a discussion that we are having with the Russian authorities. We are waiting for clarification.
“We are not going to have discrimination at the World Cup. There is zero tolerance for discrimination, and not just for racism, but anything that might curb a person’s freedoms: political views, sexual orientation, whatever it might be.”