We must not politicise sports, said French President Emmanuel Macron, who will travel to Qatar to support the French team if it reaches the semi-final, the Elysée said earlier this week.
A few days before the start of the World Cup in Qatar on Sunday, Macron was asked about the possibility of a boycott on the sidelines of a trip to the Indo-Pacific. As “we must not politicise sport”, “these questions must be asked when the events are attributed” and not “each time the event is there,” he said on Thursday.
In France, the left has spoken out against the World Cup, criticising the president for not boycotting the event and rejecting his argument that sport does not have to be political.
For radical left MP Alexis Corbière, Macron’s presence would mean “endorsing a reactionary monarchical regime.”
The call to boycott the cup has resonated in French cities, with Paris, at the beginning of October, joining Lille, Marseille, Bordeaux, Strasbourg and Reims in announcing it will not be setting up giant screens and fan zones over human rights and environmental concerns, BBC reported.
Along with the executive, the French team have also been criticised for taking part in the event that had led to human and labour rights abuses, with thousands of workers dying on Qatar’s World Cup construction sites.
Responding to criticism, the national team published a letter on social networks to recall their “commitment to respect for human rights and their refusal to accept any form of discrimination.” As proof of their commitment, the players have decided to “support NGOs that work to protect human rights.”
French footballers were also criticised for refusing to wear an armband in the colours of the LGBT flag in protest against the criminalisation of homosexuality in Qatar, where it is punishable by prison.
Qatar has called on gay fans who may be present in the country to exercise “discretion,” reminding them that no demonstrations of any kind will be accepted in Qatari stadiums.
French data protection watchdog (National Commission for Information Technology and Civil Liberties – CNIL) has advised French fans travelling to Qatar to avoid taking “photos, videos […] that could get you into trouble under the legislation of the country you are visiting.”
(Davide Basso | EURACTIV.fr)