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Turning World Cup into ‘platform of political statements’ is wrong for football, Qatar boss says

The Qatari World Cup chief told English and Welsh FAs that they should be focusing on their teams, rather than demanding compensation for migrants.

Sky News was also interviewed by Nasser Al Khater in Doha, Qatar. He said that the tournament’s enduring criticism could be considered racist.

He stated:

  • Gay people are welcome to show their affection and wave rainbow flags.
  • FIFA will decide whether captains should wear “One Love” armbands, while warning against teams sending “political messages”.
  • For drunk supporters, special areas will be set up to help them sober up.
  • 95% of tickets were sold.

The opening of the Middle East’s first World Cup is scheduled for 19 November. It marks the end of a 12-year-long journey that began when Qatar won an unqualified vote from FIFA, football’s international governing body.


Since then, Al Khater has held the position of chief executive of the supreme planning committee for Qatar and has been the target of harsh criticism.

An international group of European countries including England and Wales spent the World Cup build up raising concerns about the sufferings of migrant workers. They also claimed inadequacies with Qatar’s compensation funding.

Sky News’ Mr Al Khater said that “a lot of people who speak about the issue of workers’ welfare…are not experts in this industry.” They’re not experts on the topic they’re talking about.

Qatar: More

“And I feel that their feelings of obligation, that they must speak, are what they have to face. They need to read more about the events in Qatar.

On Wednesday, a UEFA working group focused on labor rights in Qatar met at FIFA HQ in Switzerland.

“So when people say “Yes, we agree that there should be some kind of compensation fund,” Mr Al Khater stated, “they’re just reading off of a piece of paper.”

Let’s not worry about that… let’s just focus on football. Let football administrators concentrate on their teams. Let’s leave it at that.”

Image: The World Cup Finals will be held at Lusail Stadium. Pic: AP

‘Be respectful to culture’

Although World Cup organizers claim that there have been only three deaths from work at the stadiums, there are still concerns about the possibility of more fatalities due to migrant workers working on infrastructure projects in Qatar.

Al Khater referred to Qatar’s improvement of labour laws and introduction of a minimum salary.

Qatar has not yet made any changes to anti-LGBTQ+ laws in response to the concerns of visitors, but insists that no one will be discriminated against during this tournament and that gay supporters can still hold hands.

Mr Al Khater stated that all we ask is that people respect the culture. “As long as you don’t harm other people or destroy public property, and as long you behave in a manner that’s not harmful to others, everyone is welcome.

While Mr Al Khater stated that fans can display rainbow flags at the FIFA World Cup, he added that “it’s a FIFA Matter” whether Harry Kane (the England captain) and Gareth Bale (his Welsh counterpart) are allowed to wear armbands multicoloured “One Love,” which highlight discrimination.

“From what I understand there are discussions about the different political messages which are going to be,” said Mr Al Khater.

He said, “This is a sporting event that people want [to] enjoy.” It is not right to turn it into a platform for political statements, which I do not believe is the best thing for the sport.

95% tickets sold

Eight new stadiums have been built in Doha. Al Khater stated that accommodation is still available through the organisers, but 95% have been sold.

Qatar was required to allow alcohol sales outside of stadiums to host the World Cup. This is in addition to the usual restriction on hotel bars.

For the first Muslim nation to host a World Cup, mass gatherings of drunken supporters are not common.

Al Khater stated that there are plans for people who have been drinking to excess to get sober.

“It’s a place where they can keep themselves safe and they aren’t harmful to anyone else.”

Al Khater dismissed concerns that vote-buying might have secured World Cup hosting rights for 2010, saying that he felt Qatar was unfairly targeted.

He said, “We have taken on the challenge ourselves and we have risen to that challenge.”

When asked if he feels criticism is racist, he replied: “I don’t want to get into other people’s intentions, I’m certainly not going into the minds or souls of others.

“But, you know, who knows? Possible.”


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