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World Cup 2022: Qatar's foreign minister denounces 'hypocrisy' of criticism

Doha says world is 'looking forward to tournament', with critical European countries among those buying the most tickets
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani during a press briefing in Doha on 30 September 2021 (AFP)
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani during a press briefing in Doha on 30 September 2021 (AFP)

Qatar’s foreign minister has condemned what he called "hypocrisy" from western countries criticising the country over alleged human rights abuses ahead of its hosting of the World Cup later this month.

Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told Le Monde on Thursday that "attacks" were being made by a minority of people, with critical European countries amongst those buying the most tickets. 

"There is a lot of hypocrisy in these attacks, which ignore all that we have achieved," said Thani, who also serves as deputy prime minister. 

'Among the ten countries that bought the most tickets, we find European countries like France'

- Qatar's foreign minister

"They are being peddled by a very small number of people, in ten countries at most, who are not at all representative of the rest of the world. It is frankly unfortunate.

"The reality is that the world is looking forward to this celebration. Over 97 percent of the tickets have been sold. Among the ten countries that bought the most tickets, we find European countries like France." 

Doha has faced a slew of bad headlines over its attitudes towards same-sex relationships and its treatment of migrant workers, with days to go until it becomes the first middle eastern country to host the tournament.

Several French cities, including Paris, announced earlier this year that they would not broadcast the tournament on large screens as a protest against the Qatari record on the environment and human rights.

However, despite this criticism, France has signed a partnership with Qatar to provide security personnel at the World Cup, a decision that has attracted some criticism from French media. 

'Political battles'

The Qatari foreign minister’s comments come as football’s governing body Fifa wrote to all 32 teams competing at the World Cup, urging them to focus on football rather than political "battles". 

"We know football does not live in a vacuum, and we are equally aware that there are many challenges and difficulties of a political nature all around the world," it said.

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"But please do not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists." 

Nine European countries, including France, England, Germany, Netherlands, and Belgium, are set to wear "One Love" armbands at the tournament in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. 

Same-sex acts between consenting adults in private are a criminal offence in Qatar punishable by up to seven years in prison. 

Last month, Germany's Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in a TV interview that "it would be better that tournaments are not awarded to such states" referring to the Qatari record on human rights, adding that choosing Qatar to host the World Cup was "very tricky" for the German government. 

Her comments caused a minor diplomatic spat between Doha and Berlin, and she later acknowledged Qatar's "very good laws" in addressing human rights.

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