Soccer Body Echoes IOC by Asking Russia to Clarify Anti-Gay Law

Soccer’s world governing body echoed the International Olympic Committee by calling on Russia to clarify an anti-gay law that has led to protests against the host of next year’s Winter Olympics and the 2018 World Cup.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month signed a law enacting a ban and maximum fine of 1 million rubles ($30,438) on “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors. Foreign citizens charged under the law face 15 days in jail and deportation.

On Aug. 1, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the law will be enforced during the 2014 Winter Games, which start Feb. 7 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Four years later, Russia will host the soccer World Cup, international sport’s most-watched event.

FIFA, the Zurich, Switzerland-based federation that governs soccer and is responsible for the World Cup, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday that it “has asked the Russian authorities for clarification and more details on this new law.”

The World Cup is worth about $5 billion through sales of television and marketing rights, as well as income generated by the local hosts for the quadrennial event.

“FIFA expects that all guests in a FIFA World Cup host country, whether they are fans, players, officials or media, experience a great FIFA World Cup irrespective of their sexual orientation,” the organization said.

The Russian law has sparked global controversy, from calls for a boycott of the Sochi Games by British actor Stephen Fry to gay bars in the U.S. dumping Russian vodka. U.S. President Barack Obama criticized the law, saying he had “no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”

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