Paris Boycotts Public Viewing of Qatar World Cup
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is fast approaching with the world’s biggest soccer spectacle starting on November 20th. This year’s competition will be held in Qatar for the first time. The decision to host the World Cup in the Middle Eastern country has caused controversy in recent weeks.
The host country stands accused of human rights abuses such as forced labor and the abuse and exploitation of migrant workers. There have been recorded accounts of laborers dying while working on the construction of stadiums and other facilities. This has led to many cities, most recently Paris, announcing that they would not be setting up fan zones for the FIFA World Cup. Fan zones are public spaces in which soccer fans can watch games on large screens. This announcement was made by several cities in the country despite the fact that France is currently the FIFA World Champion and one of the favorites to win this year’s tournament.
“[Our reasons are] firstly because of the environmental and social conditions regarding the event and this is not the model that we wish to promote for major events in Paris,” Pierre Rabadan, Paris’ deputy mayor of sport, said on October 4th. The city, however, made it clear that this was not a call to boycott the event itself, nor of the Qatari regime. “It doesn’t mean that we are calling for a boycott of the event,” added Rabadan.
Some have pointed out the city’s hypocrisy given the fact that Paris Saint-Germain, the city’s foremost soccer team, is owned by a Qatari company and is run by a Qatari. The owners of the team have close ties to the Qatari government. Rabadan was eager to point out how much PSG had brought to the city in terms of an economic and tourism boost.
Paris joins Marseille, Strasbourg, Lille, and Bordeaux in a pledge to not set up public viewing for the event. London has also made a similar announcement stating they will not screen FIFA World Cup matches in public spaces over human rights and environmental concerns.