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In just two months, on November 20, the FIFA World Cup will begin in Qatar. A month of competition in this small emirate in the Middle East. This World Cup will be played in air-conditioned stadiums and in a country with little respect for human rights. Is that quite reasonable?
Two months from the World Cup 2022 football at Qatar, consciences begin to wake up. Several former players have called for a boycott. Eric Cantona, for example, who stigmatizes ” an ecological aberration and a human horror “. ” How many thousands of deaths to build stadiums? asks the former French international. Same story with Philipp Lahm captain of the German team world champion in 2014. He will not go to Qatar.
There is also this initiative and this front page Reunion newspaperthe most widely read newspaper on the Indian Ocean island: Without us. ” This daily will not talk about the World Cup during the competition, as explained by Flavien Rosso, head of the sports department: ” There is a whole series of completely aberrant decisions, in terms of the violation of rights, in terms of the violation of the environment, in terms of non-respect of minorities. We had to say “stop”, knowing that it is not necessarily Qatar that we are judging and condemning. We really judge the way this World Cup was built and which, in our opinion, is incompatible with the values that, for 46 years, The Daily try to develop. »
► To (re) listen: Qatar: a World Cup at what price?
For some players, difficult to take a stand
Another reaction made a lot of noise, that of the French actor Vincent Lindon. He, whose roles in the cinema we know and who presided over the last Cannes Film Festival, points to a “ ecological aberration ” and the ” non-respect of human rights ideology “. ” We live in a giant asylum “, he gets carried away. A survey of the British daily The Guardian in 2021 reported thousands of migrant workers dead in Qatar since work began for the World Cup. Vincent Lindon regrets, as he explained on the France 5 television channel, that no great current player, likely to go to the World Cup, takes a position and refuses to go to Qatar: ” It looks simplistic but it can only come from the players. It can’t come from a state. A State does not have the right to ask players or Didier Deschamps to boycott the World Cup. But a player, he is free! It is an artist ! He can! So I think that would be good, yes. »
Take a stand against Qatar? It may not be as simple as it seems for a gamer. Take the Argentinian Lionel Messi, the Brazilian Neymar and the French Kylian Mbappé. They play for Paris Saint-Germain whose owner-shareholder is none other than Qatar. And beyond that, if you look at the 32 countries qualified for the World Cup, no player from any selection has so far called for a boycott. Disappointing ? No, says Benjamin Moukandjo, now retired from the field and who played in the 2014 World Cup with Cameroon: ” It’s easy, when you’ve finished your career, to say that you shouldn’t go there. But when you’re in full swing, who wouldn’t like to play in the World Cup? It is the holy grail, the pinnacle of football. Of course, I’m not saying that we have to accept everything because we have to play a World Cup, far from it! Now, taking a stand when you’re a player, I understand them because it’s very very difficult… »
A counterproductive boycott?
And if we shouldn’t go to Qatar, with regard to the question of human rights, should we go to Russia four years ago for the last World Cup or to Beijing in China for the 2008 Olympic Games? The question needs to be asked. For Jean-Baptiste Guégan in any case, author of Geopolitics of Sport, Another Explanation of the Worldboycotting these major events is not the solution: A boycott is the worst solution, because suddenly you prevent dialogue, discussion and the creation of a balance of power with the country in question. And, in this case, if you want to change the question of human rights on the spot and the condition of the workers, you have to go there, you have to discuss with them and you have to use this World Cup as a the sink. »
► To (re) listen: Qatar 2022, a World Cup in unknown territory
Trying to weigh from the inside, this is what the NGO Amnesty International has been striving to do for 10 years, since the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar, by publishing surveys. Some reports have also prompted the Qatari authorities to marginally change labor law. Sabine Gagnier, in charge of discrimination issues at Amnesty, believes that we must continue to put pressure on Doha in this way: “ So far, our organization has not called for a boycott of the World Cup. We think this is really an opportunity to turn the spotlight on these violations and attract world opinion to denounce this situation. And we hope that will force Qatar to change the working conditions there. »
Anyway, the countdown has begun. In two months, on November 20, the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador will be played. A month of competition until the final on December 18.
Interview by Christophe Diremszian, Christophe Jousset and Frédéric Suteau