Paris joins big screen boycott of World Cup games from Qatar
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday that they would boycott World Cup soccer matches from 2022 to 2026 as the Qatar hosts begin a three-year blockade of the country due to alleged human rights abuses.
“We have made our decision,” Fabius told reporters after meeting with visiting British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Tuesday. “It’s not about the Qatar World Cup – it’s about the human rights violations.”
The French foreign ministry said a decision would be communicated in the coming days.
A boycott of the 2022 FIFA World Cup – the showpiece event in the region – would affect the next two World Cups, as well as the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 and Tokyo in 2020.
Qatar’s state-media said preparations for the World Cup were unaffected by the suspension.
“We are confident that our team will be ready, ready for the big game in Marrakech,” Qatari Premier League side Al Sadd Stadium in the capital of Qatar said in a tweet Tuesday after the announcement.
A boycott of soccer’s World Cup could affect the next two tournaments after 2026.
The move was denounced by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who told Fabius it was “really disappointing” the French government was taking such a step.
“The prime minister has said time and time again that he stands by our friends in France – but he is absolutely wrong to suggest they will take such a step,” Cameron said in a statement.
Cameron added that the government has asked Fifa to “urgently” consider the situation.
Qatar, which is host of the 2022 tournament, has been embroiled in regional and international controversy since the start of the year, when it was hit with a $11 billion bill for taxes owed by residents in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
The country also has been in dispute with the United Arab Emirates over its refusal to grant its citizens residency in the country. Qatar was also in talks with the United States and China over a potential military base on the country’s coast.
In April, its citizens took over control of the international airport