World Cup Dreaming: Sporting Activism and the Incrementalist Advancement of Sexual Equality Through Association Football

50 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2016

See all articles by Richard J. Peltz-Steele

Richard J. Peltz-Steele

University of Massachusetts School of Law at Dartmouth

Jose Benavides

Funk & Associates

Date Written: December 29, 2015


This study explores the potential to use FIFA and men’s World Cup football to advance LGBT rights. Transnational sporting organizations such as the IOC and FIFA operate largely behind closed doors. In secret agreements, the organizations leverage world audience to bend national governments to their will, and they venomously protect their transnational corporate partners from market competition. But both the IOC and FIFA are rational economic actors. Interest groups that align with FIFA’s commercial aims can take advantage of the organization’s power. Recognizing the historical interplay of civil rights and global sport, as in the anti-Apartheid vein, this study begins with the recent experience of the 2014 Olympics and the anti-LGBT law in Russia, as well as the 2014 World Cup and socioeconomic protests in Brazil. In this context the World Cup will unfold in Russia in 2018 and, for the first time in the Arab world, in socially conservative Qatar in 2022. The study connects a recent model of contemporary incrementalist theory in the marriage equality literature with FIFA pressure on World Cup hosts to effectuate policy goals. The study thereby proposes the advancement of LGBT rights by exploiting FIFA’s means and motives to manipulate national domestic law and policy. As nations and peoples strive for victory on the World Cup pitch, so LGBT advocates can drive the equality movement through football sporting activism.

Keywords: sport, sporting, activism, development, soccer, football, FIFA, World Cup, Russia, Qatar, Brazil, Olympics, IOC, transnational, corporate social responsibility, CSR, sponsor, incrementalism, civil rights, sex, sexual, equality, discrimination, gay, homosexual, LGBT

JEL Classification: D23, D71, F23, F42, H32, H59, H73, I39, J71, K19, K39, L21, L39, L82, L83, M14, O17, O19

Suggested Citation

Peltz-Steele, Richard J. and Benavides, Jose, World Cup Dreaming: Sporting Activism and the Incrementalist Advancement of Sexual Equality Through Association Football (December 29, 2015). West Virginia Law Review, Vol. 118, 2015. Available at SSRN:

Richard J. Peltz-Steele (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts School of Law at Dartmouth ( email )

333 Faunce Corner Road
North Dartmouth, MA 02747-1252
United States
15089851102 (Phone)

Jose Benavides

Funk & Associates ( email )

5500 N Interstate Hwy 35
Austin, TX 78751
United States

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