Qatar 2022 chief tells England and Wales to focus on football, not politics

October 13 – World Cup boss Nasser Al Khater has said that England and Wales should focus on their teams’ preparations for the World Cup rather than demanding compensation for migrant workers or making political statements.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Al Khater, the CEO of the Supreme Committee for Legacy and Delivery, said: “This is a sporting tournament that people want to come (to) and enjoy. Turning it into a platform of political statements I don’t think is right for the sport.”

In November, Qatar will become the first Arab country to stage the world’s most important sporting event, but the host nation has received a lot of criticism over its human rights record and labour law issues. In the build-up to the kick-off, some FAs and Human Rights groups have called on FIFA and local organisers to compensate migrant workers who have suffered human rights abuses.

“A lot of people that speak about this issue on workers’ welfare … are not experts in the industry. And they’re not experts in what they’re speaking about,” said Al Khater.

“And I feel that they feel obliged, that they need to speak. I think they need to really read and educate themselves a little bit more about what’s happening on the ground in Qatar,” he continued.

“So when people come out and say, ‘Yes, we agree that there needs to be some sort of compensation fund’, they’re just reading off a piece of paper.

“So let’s leave that to the experts … and let us focus on football. Let the football administrators focus on their teams. And let’s just leave it at that.”

It’s a line of argument that organisers have rolled out more assertively ever since Lise Klaveness, the president of the Norwegian Football Federation, delivered a stinging speech at the last FIFA Congress in Doha, highlighting the labour rights abuses in the World Cup host nation and demanding the LGBT community be respected.

The captains of England and Wales intend  to wear multicoloured ‘One Love’ armbands that highlight discrimination, but Al Khater said that it is for FIFA to approve the armbands, but he repeated that all fans, no matter their sexual orientation, will be welcome

“All we ask is for people to be respectful of the culture,” said Al Khater “At the end of the day, as long as you don’t do anything that harms other people, if you’re not destroying public property, as long as you’re behaving in a way that’s not harmful, then everybody’s welcome and you have nothing to worry about.”

He said that if a Sky Sports’ reporter and him would hold hands nothing would happen.

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