Fifa president Sepp Blatter has apologised after saying gay football fans should “refrain from any sexual activity” during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The 74-year-old made the controversial comment in a press conference on Monday – prompting criticism from gay rights groups.
But Blatter has now apologised for his comments, saying he didn’t want to upset anyone intentionally.
The FIFA chief said: “It was not my intention and never will be my intention to go into any discrimination.
“If somebody feels hurt, then I regret [it] and present apologies.”
His apology has been welcomed by gay rights groups.
Chris Basiurski, Chair of the Gay Football Supporters Network said: “Mr Blatter’s earlier comments demonstrated his and FIFA’s lack of understanding of the problems facing LGBT people across the world, and while we are pleased he has apologised, we still need reassurance from FIFA over the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and whether it will be safe for LGBT people to attend.
“We hope that following his apology, FIFA will engage and work with to address the issues we face in Qatar and tackle the issue of homophobia in football in general.”
The tiny Gulf state of Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal, will be hosting the 2022 World Cup after beating Australia and USA in the bids last month.