Taking the World Cup to Qatar could help improve attitudes towards homosexuality in the region, David Cameron has said.
The Prime Minister said that there was “no place for homophobia in football” during a visit to the Gulf state.
Concerns have been raised about the possible treatment of gay fans travelling to the 2022 tournament because homosexuality is outlawed in the host nation.
Mr Cameron, speaking alongside the Qatari prime minister, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al Thani, congratulated him on his country’s successful bid which had been “very persuasive”.
Asked about the homosexuality issue, Mr Cameron said: “Football is for everybody – no one should be excluded on the basis of their race or religion or sexuality.
“It is absolutely vital that is the case. I am sure that will be the case when the World Cup comes here.”
He went on: “Football can be a great engine for social change and a change of attitudes – we saw in our own country how football drove racism out of the stands.
“Just as that has happened, so too, we need to make sure that there is no place for homophobia in football.”
The Qatari prime minister said that he was glad the question had been directed at his British counterpart as that was “less embarrassing to me”.
He admitted that he was not a big sports fan and did not know the rules of football.