World Cup: ‘Don’t treat sexual assault victims as criminals’, Fifa says


LUSAIL CITY, QATAR - NOVEMBER 22: Police are seen on horseback outside the stadium prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium on November 22, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Police are seen on horseback outside the stadium prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia (Picture: Getty Images Europe)

Fifa has asked police in Qatar to not treat women as criminals if they report rape or sexual assault during the World Cup, according to a new report. 

Pregnant women should also ‘not face any accusations’ and should be given medical care if required, guidance issued by the football body’s security and safety team is said to state. 

Meanwhile, officers have been instructed to not approach, detain or prosecute people ‘displaying the rainbow or other sexual identity flags’ and those ‘displaying signs of affection’. 

But the Qatari group responsible for the planning and operation of the tournament has said the document was ‘not developed or approved’ by them or any governmental body in the host nation. 

The memo appears to be an attempt to override Qatar’s laws which severely limit women’s freedoms – and can even punish those who are sexually assaulted. 

Extramarital sex in Qatar is a crime and victims of rape or sexual assault may be charged with having sex outside of marriage, although this is at the Public Prosecutor’s discretion. 

Paola Schietekat, 28, who worked for the World Cup organising committee, was accused of having an affair when she reported being sexually assaulted last year, the Daily Mail reports.

She was charged with ‘extramartial sex’, despite telling officials a colleague had broken into her flat and attacked her. 

ATP Bildagentur Muenchen Roemerstreet 6, D-80801 Muenchen, Germany phone: ++49-89-9827001, e-mail: news@atp.de Mandatory Credit: Photo by STANLEY Anthony/ATP/SPP/Shutterstock (13633151z) DOHA, QATAR, 21. November 2022: FANS, SUPPORTERS of the Team ENGLAND seen before the match start, posing next to the stadium, FOOTBALL FIFA WORLD CUP in QATAR 2022, Khalifa International Stadium,, DOHA - Al KHOR, QATAR, QATAR - 21 Nov 2022

England supporters get excited outside the stadium before the first match (Picture: Stanley Anthony/ATP/SPP/Shutterstock)

The man was acquitted, but Ms Schietekat fled the country when she faced up to seven years and 100 lashes. The case against the Mexican native was dropped in April. 

It it is illegal to be pregnant and unmarried in Qatar and women are advised to not go to doctors if they are single and possibly expecting. 

Women must also obtain permission from their male guardians to marry, study abroad on government scholarships, work in many government jobs, travel abroad until certain ages, and receive some forms of reproductive health care. 

The memo from Fifa’s Security and Safety Operations Committee (SSOC) sets out how police should respond to various scenarios during the World Cup.

It tells officers: ‘Women will not face any accusations if they report rape or sexual/harassment violence.’ 

Addressing pregnant women who are in need of a doctor, it says they should be given care ‘regardless of the circumstances and will not face any accusations’. 

The document asks police to not crack down on clothing, amid reports an American journalist was detained because he was wearing a T-shirt displaying an LGBTQ+ rainbow. 

Multiple Wales fans say their rainbow bucket hats also being confiscated

It comes after England ditched their plan for Harry Kane to wear the OneLove armband after Fifa threatened yellow cards and fines. 

Wearing the anti-discrimination armband in Qatar, a country where same-sex relationships are criminalised, would have been a significant move. 

Editorial Use Only Mandatory Credit: Photo by Kieran McManus/Shutterstock (13626356g) An Iran fan with a sign protesting against her countries treatment of women England v Iran, FIFA World Cup 2022, Group B, Football, Khalifa International Stadium, Ar-Rayyan, Qatar - 21 Nov 2022

An Iran fan with a sign protesting against her countries treatment of women (Picture: Kieran McManus/Shutterstock)

In the memo, Fifa is said to state that supporters who show ‘intimate body parts may be asked to put the clothing back on’. 

Footy fans should also be allowed to launch ‘spontaneous marches in streets and shopping malls’ and can stand on ‘tables/chair/bench and chant a fan song’ in public without fear of prosecution. 

Qatar’s Supreme Committee has reportedly said it is ‘aware’ of the document. 

But it made it clear that it was ‘not developed or approved by the Supreme Committee or any other State of Qatar entity.’ 

Metro has contacted Fifa and Qatar’s Supreme Committee for further comment.

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