Focus has remained firmly on Qatar's human rights record and treatment of the LGBTI+ community in the lead-up to the FIFA World Cup, which gets underway later this month.
The Middle Eastern nation proved to be a controversial choice of host for the 2022 tournament, with attitudes towards homosexuality in the deeply conservative country of particular concern for some fans.
ALL THE INFO: The good, bad and ugly side of Qatar showpiece
The concerns were only deepened earlier this week, when Qatar World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman appeared on German TV and declared homosexuality represented 'damage in the mind'.
Salman's interview was hastily ended by accompanying World Cup staff, however in the days since, the Qatari ambassador has taken his comments even further.
After his comments in Germany caused widespread outcry among football fans, Salman later attempted to take to Twitter in order to smooth the situation over.
The 60-year-old claimed his comments had been taken 'out of context' after fears were sparked over the safety of LGBTI fans who might be attending the World Cup.
“I regret that what I said was taken out of context, because neither our religion nor our nature is to offend or insult,” Salman wrote..
“Everyone is welcome in Qatar, but our religion and culture will not change for the championship."
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, where more than 1 million spectators are expected to travel for the World Cup.
This is a video of Khalid Salman himself commenting on the interview which went viral.
He said that his interview was taken out of context.#Qatar#QatarWorldCup2022 @khalidjassem74 pic.twitter.com/ZEP4wV6rh7
— Mohammed Abdulla Alfakhroo (@Iamalfakhro) November 9, 2022
Salman's comments prompted an outcry in Germany, with the nation's interior minister Nancy Faeser labelling them 'horrible', while LGBT organisations across not only Germany, but the world, have spoken out against Qatar's laws.
While FIFA has insisted Qatar allow rainbow flags to be flown throughout the tournament, some fears remain about the safety of LGBT fans.
Former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter admits Qatar World Cup was a 'mistake'
The latest fears about Qatar's conservative laws come after former FIFA president Sepp Blatter admitted it was a 'mistake' to have awarded the tournament to the nation back in 2021.
Blatter, who was disgraced in the football world and banned from FIFA until 2028 over violations of the organisations code of ethics, said it was clear that the United States should have been awarded the 2022 World Cup instead.
The hosting rights for the 2022 tournament have long been subject to accusations of corruption, with Blatter forced to step down from FIFA in 2015 over a payment of two million Swiss francs to then-UEFA president Michael Platini in the lead-up to the vote.
Blatter has since claimed that the vote was swung in Qatar's favour thanks to Platini, who Blatter says was influenced by former French president Nicolas Sarkozy to do so.
In charge of FIFA for some 17 years, Blatter left the organisation in disgrace after the payment to Platini was made public.
In an interview with German press, Blatter argued Qatar was 'too small' to host the tournament, being the smallest nation to do so since Switzerland in 1954.
“It’s a country that’s too small. Football and the World Cup are too big for that," Blatter said.
“It was a bad choice. And I was responsible for that as president at the time."
Incredibly, Blatter put the involvement of Sarkozy down to a looming defence deal between France and Qatar.
“But of course it was also about money. Six months later, Qatar bought fighter jets from the French for $14.6 billion," he alleged.
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