Barcelona are selling its LGBTQ+ fans down the river

Barcelona are selling its LGBTQ+ fans down the river

Ah, yes, we’ve gotten to that point in the European football season where most everyone asks themselves, “Why are these teams in Saudi Arabia?” before quickly correcting themselves.

Busta Rhymes – Arab Money (Official Music Video)

That’s why Spain and Italy have moved their “Super Cup” games to that country and to the middle of the season, and Turkey tried, but failed, due to unpleasantness, games that used to take place right before the season that pitted the previous season’s league winners vs. the previous season’s cup winner. Both FAs have expanded to the runners-up in each competition from the previous season to give Saudi more games, make them pay more for it, and to try to justify flying to the Middle East in the middle of a busy season.

Barcelona, who have spent the past two or three seasons turning the entire club into a clown car, made sure to make their latest sojourn to Saudi Arabia as uncomfortable as possible for everyone and to show exactly where their priorities are. To sum up, on their website, Barca posted a series of guidelines for fans that are traveling, including a special section for LGBTQ+ fans that warn them of severe penalties for even “posting about their experiences on social media,” as well as being “respectful and prudent when it comes to public displays of affection.” And there’s this:

“Indecent behavior, including any action of a sexual nature, can lead to severe legal consequence for foreigners. Same-sex relations can also be subjected to severe penalties, as well as open displays of support for LGBTI causes, even on social media.”

This is the same rigamarole fans went through with the World Cup in Qatar, where FIFA president/bullhorn/deluded aardvark Gianni Infantino had to implore fans to be “respectful” of that country’s oppressive and abhorrent policies on LGBTQ+ people. Or that country’s pawing claims before the tourney that they would accept everyone before quickly confiscating rainbow flags and scarves and the like once people arrived in the country and the tournament started.

It is folly to pretend that any club is going to turn down the money because their fans can’t be who they are where they are traveling to support said club, even though that should obviously be the norm. The decision to have this mini-tournament there wasn’t Barca’s call, it was the Spanish FA’s, and yet it probably never dawned on them, or any other club, to take a stand. But telling your fans to not be who they are when they are spending all that money and time to travel to support your club is clearly focusing on the wrong problem. “We’re happy to take your money, but for a few days, could you not be gay? Would really help us out.”

Barca are, on behalf of their hosts, trying to duck any controversy about the laws in Saudi Arabia, because the whole point of this Super Cup is part of the “sports-washing” campaign of that country. Saudi Arabia wanted its own El Clasico every year, as Barca and Real Madrid are always likely to either have picked up either league or Copa Del Rey or finished 1-2 in the league, to show off how it can hold major sporting events. What it doesn’t want is any outrage by how it might treat gay fans of those two clubs showing up and, y’know, being gay.

We can do all this on a much bigger scale, too, in 10 years, when Saudi Arabia hosts the World Cup. Aren’t you excited?

By this point, it’s shouting at the rain to bemoan how clubs and leagues could tell a percentage of their fans that their humanity isn’t worth as much as the checks a backward regime is cutting for them, but that doesn’t make it any less disgusting. In reality, Barca and Madrid, and whoever, else don’t really care how many of their fans travel because the Saudis are paying them for the games anyway. If Saudi Arabia wants to show what a tourist destination it could be, it certainly doesn’t want any social media posts or stories leaking out about what it did to any LGBTQ+ tourists who showed up and were just themselves when they did. The simplest solution is to not have major football matches there, but that ship sailed as soon as the size of the bags of money being dropped off at the Spanish FA became clear. The other simple solution would be for the Saudis to live up to the levels of tolerance the Qataris only briefly waved at before the World Cup, but again…

Busta Rhymes – Arab Money (Official Music Video)

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.