FIFA has sent a letter to the 2022 World Cup teams urging them to focus on football in Qatar and not allow the sport to be pulled into ideological or political “battlegrounds.”
The letter from FIFA president Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura followed many protests made by World Cup teams.
Concerns ranging from LGBTIQ rights to the plight of migrant labor prompted the protests.
“Please, let’s now focus on the football!” Infantino and Samoura were quoted in the letter to the 32 countries contesting at the World Cup.
“We know football does not live in a vacuum and we are equally aware that there are many challenges and difficulties of a political nature all around the world.
“But please do not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists.”
However, FIFA, the international governing body of the sport, was unable to react immediately when reached by Reuters.
The inaugural World Cup to be staged in the Middle East begins on November 20.
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The Australian football squad criticized Qatar’s record on human rights and same-sex relationships last week.
The Danish FA (DBU) warned local media last month that players will travel to the World Cup without their families as a protest against the country’s human rights record.
Friday, Football Australia confirmed receipt of the letter from FIFA but declined to comment further.
Additionally, Reuters approached the DBU for comment.
The organizers of the World Cup have stated that everyone is welcome, regardless of sexual orientation or origin, but have warned against public displays of affection.
Qatar has acknowledged that its labor system has “gaps,” but the World Cup has enabled the country to make progress on worker rights.
“At FIFA, we try to respect all opinions and beliefs, without handing out moral lessons to the rest of the world,” Infantino said in the letter.
“One of the great strengths of the world is indeed its very diversity, and if inclusion means anything, it means having respect for that diversity. No one people or culture or nation is ‘better’ than any other.
“This principle is the very foundation stone of mutual respect and non-discrimination. And this is also one of the core values of football. So, please let’s all remember that and let football take center stage.”
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