According to consultants Cornerstone Global Associates in an advisory report on the games, Qatar’s strict rules on homosexuality could pose a major reputational risk to sponsors and official broadcasters unless the law is suspended for the duration of the World Cup.
The report says that such rules would also be contrary to the latest FIFA Code of Ethics which covers, amongst other issues, sexual orientation and explicitly bans discrimination on this front. It points out that whilst Qatar 2022 officials have indicated that the country would allow LGBT fans to attend the 2022 tournament, the state has yet to formally confirm this by announcing a suspension of LGBT laws during the event.
Cornerstone points to the global campaign against Brunei’s introduction of anti-LGBT laws which saw a backlash against Brunei businesses and the country backing down. With a number of sponsors having explicit campaigns to promote LGBT rights, the report says that reputational risk across a number of areas can be managed by a combination of action from FIFA, Qatar and the sponsors.
LGBT laws are just one of the areas which the report identifies as risks for sponsors and which could pose legal threats for the companies. According to Ghanem Nuseibeh, chairman of Cornerstone Global Associates: “There are legal as well as reputational risks for those promoting Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022." He added that this was "unprecedented and global sponsors are seriously thinking of ways to mitigate this risk."