People “cannot accept a small country from the Middle East” hosting the World Cup and those criticising the tournament are “arrogant”, Qatar’s Foreign Minister has told Sky News.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani described negative media coverage of the upcoming tournament as “misinformation” in an exclusive interview with Sky News Middle East correspondent Alistair Bunkall.
“Preaching from a distance is not a solution,” he said.
“Calling to boycott the World Cup, or those who are not coming to the World Cup, it’s their decision at the end of the day, but why deprive the people and the public from attending and enjoying the World Cup.”
Asked about the competing nations’ criticism of the hosts, he replied: “What kind of message are they sending to their own public?
“What about their own problems within their countries, which they are turning a blind eye? Honestly, not me or the Qatari people only, but there’s a lot of people from around the world who are just seeing this as a sense of arrogance.
“A sense of people who cannot accept a small country from the Middle East has won the bid to host the World Cup.”
In the 12 years since Qatar was awarded the tournament, concerns have been repeatedly raised about its human rights record, treatment of migrant workers who built the stadia, and the LGBTQ community.
Its foreign minister’s comments come after English and Welsh football officials said they would continue to campaign on human rights issues in spite of FIFA calls for teams to stay out of politics.
Both teams have said they will wear OneLove rainbow armbands in solidarity with LGBTQ people.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino and secretary general FatmaSamoura wrote to the 32 competing nations last week, saying: “Please do not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists.”
The World Cup begins from November 20 to December 18. – Sky Sports