Last Updated: Fri Dec 17, 2010 14:38 pm (KSA) 11:38 am (GMT)

Blatter apologizes for remarks about gay fans

FIFA President Sepp Blatter
FIFA President Sepp Blatter

FIFA President Sepp Blatter apologized on Friday for saying gay football fans should "refrain from sexual activities" if they planned to go to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Gay groups have called for the head of the world soccer governing body to either apologize or resign after his comments this week. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.

 To play when the climate is appropriate and I'm thinking about the footballers, not only the fans but the actors 
FIFA President Sepp Blatter

"I will not enter into such a discussion but I will just say here if I hurt a group of people in the world by making those comments then I regret it," Blatter told a news conference.

"It was not my intention and it will never be my intention to go into any discrimination because this is exactly what we (FIFA) are against, so therefore if somebody feels they have been hurt, then I regret and I present apologies for that."

Qatar was awarded the World Cup this month ahead of Australia, the United States and a joint bid from Japan and South Korea.

Blatter also said he was happy for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be played in the European winter rather than the traditional summer months to avoid the searing heat in the Middle East.

"I definitely support to play in winter here (in the Middle East)," Blatter told a news conference at the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.

"To play when the climate is appropriate and I'm thinking about the footballers, not only the fans but the actors," he said referring to the intense heat of summer in Qatar, where temperatures can go above 50 degrees Celsius.

Since Qatar was awarded the staging of the 2022 finals earlier this month, there have been suggestions from leading figures like Franz Beckenbauer that the FIFA calendar should be altered for that year.

"The actors giving the spectacle, this is very important to protect the footballers and if this is possible, but it should be possible with the will, where there's a will there's a way," Blatter said.

"It's a question of the international calendar but again it's in 11 and half years till this can be done."

Blatter arrived in Abu Dhabi from Qatar where he attended an official ceremony marking the country's successful bid.

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