Qatar World Cup ‘nonsense’ called out in France
Continuing human rights concerns around FIFA’s upcoming Qatar World Cup has seen Paris become the latest French city to announce they will not be setting up fan zones or giant screens for the tournament.
The much-publicised human rights issues which have plagued the lead up to this year’s World Cup, including the deaths of workers and the persecution of the LGBTQ+ community, has led to several French cities including Lille, Marseille and Bordeaux to boycott the usual fanfare which surrounds the tournament.
Lille Socialist mayor Martine Aubry explained his city’s decision by declaring the Qatar World Cup a “nonsense in terms of human rights, the environment and sport,” while Marseille mayor Benoit Payan stated the World Cup “had progressively turned itself into a human and environmental catastrophe”.
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Qatar has defended itself against the claims of human rights violations and has constantly reiterated that anyone regardless of sexual orientation will be made to feel welcome at football’s showpiece event.
Qatar’s attempt to cover over any humanitarian concerns has been highlighted by David Beckham being used to promote Qatar in the lead up to the World Cup.
Beckham has been heavily criticised for his involvement in what many critics are describing as another example of sports washing.
Dr Nas Mohamed, who is the first gay Qatari to come out publicly, has been one of the loudest critics of the former England captain, claiming through his actions and grab for money he has “stamped out any hope” for the LGBT+ community in Qatar to escape the current persecution they experience.
Mohamed believes that Beckham is painting, through his promotional work, an unrealistic picture of Qatar, especially when it comes to the LGBT+ community.
Mohamed himself has fled Qatar and is currently waiting on asylum into the United States due to fears for his own safety.
Utilising sport, and in this case football, as a vehicle for positive change has been a line many organisations, including FIFA, have kept pedalling out when it comes to the issues surrounding Qatar.
That message has not seemingly been reflected on the ground as the safety for the LGBT+ community both within Qatar and who are travelling for the World Cup continues to be questioned.
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FIFA’s human rights policy states that there must be no discrimination of any kind when it comes to sexual orientation. This though contradicts Qatar’s own stance when it comes to homosexuality, which is still deemed a criminal offence.
The hypocrisy which exists when comparing both these policies is “disgraceful” according to Stan Sport’s football analyst Craig Foster and yet again highlights the disconnect that exists between FIFA and its own human rights policy.
Kit manufacturer Hummel’s protest through the design of plain jerseys for the Danish national team, as well as the push from nations such as the Netherlands and England to be allowed to wear rainbow captain armbands, at least demonstrates the willingness of some competing players and nations to shine a light on the human atrocities which have and continue to occur in Qatar.
However, there is pressure for Qatar to follow up with real and long-lasting change as one of the most controversial World Cups in living memory nears kick off.
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