French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday waded into the controversy around Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup, insisting sport should not be politicised.
“I think we must not politicise sport,” said Macron, whose national team are defending the title they won in Russia in 2018.
The 2022 World Cup, which kicks off on Sunday, has been dogged by controversy, including over Qatar’s alleged human rights abuses, suppression of dissent, mistreatment of foreign workers and persecution of LGBTQ people.
“These questions must be addressed when hosting the event is decided,” he told reporters in Bangkok, where he is attending a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
French football captain Hugo Lloris has said he will not join other European captains in wearing an anti-discrimination armband during the tournament, saying he wanted to “show respect” to Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
Macron, who will go to Qatar if France reach the semi-finals, said it was “a very bad idea to politicise sport”, noting that France will host the Olympic Games in 2024.
The president travelled to Russia in 2018 to see Lloris lift France’s second World Cup title with a 4-2 win in the final over Croatia.
France begin their defence of the World Cup trophy against Australia on Tuesday before also playing Denmark and Tunisia.
The Danes have sought to take a stand on Qatar’s rights record, proposing to wear pro-human rights training shirts — until the idea was shot down by FIFA.