Qatar summons German ambassador after World Cup comments
The Qatari Foreign Ministry summoned Germany’s ambassador to the Gulf state on Friday following critical remarks by German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser regarding the upcoming FIFA World Cup.
Qatar is gearing up to become the first Arab nation to host the football showpiece next month, but the build-up has taken place amid Western scrutiny of the country’s human rights record and issues such as its treatment of the LGBT community.
Speaking to German broadcaster ARD on Thursday, German official Faeser had questioned whether Qatar should have been granted the hosting rights for the tournament.
“There are criteria that must be adhered to and it would be better that tournaments are not awarded to such states,” the minister was quoted as saying.
Qatar responded by summoning German ambassador Claudius Fischbach, handing him an “objection memo” and demanding an explanation for Faeser’s remarks.
“The memo expressed the State of Qatar’s complete rejection of those remarks made towards a country whose hosting of the World Cup was justice done to a region suffering from an unjust stereotype for decades,” a statement read.
“The memo also stressed that the State of Qatar is determined to organize one of the best editions to showcase the region’s civilization and heritage to the whole world.”
The incident comes before Faeser is due to visit Doha next week – making for a potentially awkward trip.
Qatar has faced criticism from many in the West regarding its treatment of migrant workers.
Elsewhere this week, members of the Australian team who are due to be among the 32 nations competing at the World Cup issued a video plea in which they demanded a “lasting legacy” on human rights.
However, the message was dismissed as pointless “virtue-signaling” by some observers.
A report shared by The Guardian last year claimed that 6,500 migrant laborers had died in Qatar since it was awarded World Cup hosting rights by FIFA in 2010.
The report did not directly link the deaths to the building of World Cup infrastructure, and Qatar has talked up the improvements it has made in conditions for workers.
Organizers have also said gay fans will be welcome for the football showpiece, despite strict local laws against homosexuality.
The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, has accused outside forces of waging a concerted campaign to undermine the country before the World Cup, which will run from November 20 to December 18.
“It soon became clear to us that the campaign continues, expands and includes fabrication and double standards, until it reached an amount of ferocity that made many questions, unfortunately, about the real reasons and motives behind this campaign,” said the Qatari royal earlier this month.
German politician Faeser recently weighed into football matters ahead of the qualification draw for the UEFA 2024 European Championship, which will be held in her homeland.
The minister called for both Russia and Belarus to be barred from qualifying for the tournament because of the conflict in Ukraine.
UEFA opted to keep its ban on Russia in place but allowed the Belarusian team to be among those included in the qualification draw.