HomeEuropeMacron says ‘sport shouldn’t be politicized’ ahead of controversial Qatar World Cup

Macron says ‘sport shouldn’t be politicized’ ahead of controversial Qatar World Cup

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said “sport shouldn’t be politicized,” days before the beginning of the controversy-tainted football World Cup in Qatar.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Bangkok, Macron was asked about Qatar’s human rights record and the environmental impact of organizing the competition in a desert petro-state. “These questions need to be addressed when the event is awarded,” Macron responded.

The French men’s football team is one of the favorites for the upcoming tournament, which has been mired in repeated controversy since it was awarded to Qatar in 2010. Bribery and corruption allegations surrounded the bidding process, and activists, politicians and some footballers have slammed Qatar’s human rights record, its treatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQ+ community.

Macron’s comments come amid an investigation by French prosecutors into the alleged role of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in aiding Qatar to win the right to host the tournament, as French daily Le Monde reported earlier this week.

Activists have pressured high-level politicians not to attend the tournament to send a message to the Qatari government, but have had mixed success.

Spokespeople for Macron said he would attend games in Qatar if the French national team reached the semi-finals. Washington’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, has indicated he will attend the U.S. team’s first game on November 21. U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly announced Monday that he also would be attending the tournament. 

Some of the teams participating in the tournament have indicated their captains intend to sport rainbow armbands in support of LGBTQ+ rights, in a country where homosexuality is illegal. This won’t be the case for France, as team captain Hugo Lloris said they had to “show respect” to the host country. FIFA, football’s global body, has yet to greenlight the initiative.



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