DOHA (Middle East Eye) – Qatar’s foreign minister has condemned “hypocrisy” from those criticizing 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 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.
“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 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.
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.
“But please do not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists.”