By Michael Gold
The Baltimore Sun
3:48 PM EDT, August 13, 2013
Likely sensing that uproar over Russia's anti-gay law isn't going away, FIFA says it has asked Russia for "clarification and more details" about the country's law ahead of the 2018 World Cup being held there, the Associated Press reports.
Smart move, given how the International Olympic Committee has yet to receive a definitive answer from Russian officials about how the law will be enforced at the Sochi Winter Olympics in February.
In a statement, FIFA says it has "zero tolerance against discrimination." The organization - which is international soccer's governing body - has a provision in the FIFA Statutes stating that "[d]iscrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”
FIFA's statement comes five years before the start of its international event. Meanwhile, with about six months until Sochi, signs currently point to a discriminatory atmosphere at the Winter Olympics with little IOC action to prevent it.
The organization is drawing fire today after a spokesman told the Gay Star News that its charter prohibits "political, religious or racial propaganda" and would allow Olympic officials to punish athletes and coaches who wear rainbow flag pins during Olympic ceremonies.
At least one athlete, New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup, has promised to don such a pin in Sochi. Openly gay figure skater Johnny Weir also said that he's "willing" to get arrested to raise opposition against Russia's laws.
The language of the IOC's provision, by the way, echoes that of the Russian law that criminalizes "homosexual propaganda."
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