Paris (AFP) – Former players (Éric Cantona, Philipp Lahm, Vikash Dhorasoo…), political leaders, French municipalities… Calls to boycott the World Cup in Qatar, criticized on human rights or the environment, emerged before the tournament (November 20-December 18), without encountering, for the time being, any massive echo.
. Éric Cantona, former player of the France team, actor: “I don’t care about the next World Cup, which is not a real World Cup for me (…) Qatar is not is not a football country. I am not against the idea of hosting a World Cup in a country where there is an opportunity to develop and promote football, such as in South Africa or the United States in the 1990s. (…) But in Qatar, the truth is that there is no such potential. There is nothing. It’s only a story of money and the way they have treated the people who build the stadiums, it’s a horror. And thousands of people died.” (Daily Mail, January 2022)
. Philipp Lahm, captain of the 2014 world champion Germany team and director of Euro-2024: “As a fan, I’m not very keen on going there. I prefer to follow the tournament from home Human rights should play an important role in the awarding of tournaments.” (Kicker, August 2022)
. Vikash Dhorasoo, former player of the France team, finalist of the 2006 World Cup: “Times are changing. And when footballers unite, it hurts. (…) From now on, we too get up and break “Disobeying is the basis. Disobeying is the beginning of the action. It’s time for football players to shake up the old world of instances.” (Tribunal for the daily Liberation, September 26)
. Josh Cavallo, Australian footballer who came out as gay in 2021: “I think in our world we need to be equal in everything. To go to a country that criminalizes people like me… It’s quite worrying.” (CNN, October 18).
. German club TSG Hoffenheim (1st division): “We don’t want to talk about this World Cup lightly. We have to put it clearly in its context (…). We believe that purely sporting coverage, centered only on goals and performances, without considering the conditions under which this so-called football party takes place is out of the question.”
. Supporters of En Avant Guingamp, a football club playing in Ligue 2 (2nd French division), unfurl a banner in a tribune “Boycott Qatar 2022”, during the visit of the President of Fifa, Gianni Infantino, to the stadium of Roudourou. (April 2022)
. Fabien Bonnel (co-founder of the Irresistibles French supporters association): “When I said to myself that I was going to party, celebrate goals, experience excellent moments when people died, I switched to idea of not going to Qatar, of condemning this World Cup (…) I will not watch the matches, not even those of the France team. (France Info, September 19)
. Tom Daley, gay British diver, Olympic champion at Tokyo 2020: “The World Cup in Qatar has extreme rules against LGBT+ people and women. I think it should not be allowed to host a sporting event in a country that criminalizes basic human rights.”
Culture and media
. Vincent Lindon, actor: “I will not watch the World Cup. I think it is a story – and I am weighing my words – repulsive. We are going to a country which, on paper, had zero chance of having the World Cup : neither the spectators, nor the infrastructure, nor the climate. In fact, I believe that today we let ourselves be devoured by blood red money. (France Inter, August 2022)
. Virginie Despentes, novelist: “It is not even a question of cynicism anymore. This sad affair is on another level. (…) However, it is true that very few people disputed. They will surely stall ahead of the games and they seem to be selling a lot of tickets.” (Interview given to So Foot, September 12)
. Le Quotidien de la Réunion: “This World Cup, more than any other sporting or cultural event before it, crystallizes intolerable attacks on human dignity and freedoms (…) From today, there will be no there will be no more in these columns and on our website any article or advertisement evoking the sporting aspect of this Mondial-2022. (editorial on lequotidien.re, September 13)
. Several French municipalities, all political colors combined, (Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Toulouse …), will not broadcast the World Cup in Qatar on giant screens, renouncing the festivities regardless of the performance of the Blues.
. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the La France Insoumise movement (LFI): “If there was a battle for the boycott, I would take part in it, but I don’t have many illusions. It’s a shame what happens there.” (RTL, April 2021)
. Other French political figures, such as François Hollande, former President of the Republic, Olivier Faure, first secretary of the Socialist Party, or Laurent Berger, general secretary of the CFDT, said they validated the idea of a boycott.
© 2022 AFP