Portugal’s President criticises World Cup organiser Qatar but says he will attend Portugal-Ghana match on November 24
Portugal’s President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has criticised the organiser of the 2022 World Cup just a few days before it is set to start.
“Qatar does not respect human rights,” he told reporters after Portugal’s friendly match against Nigeria on Thursday night at José Alvalade Stadium in Lisbon.
Marcelo stressed the human rights violations committed during the construction of the World Cup stadiums in Qatar, but said that the focus now must be on supporting the team.
“But, anyway, let’s forget this. It’s criticisable, but let’s focus on the team. We started very well and finished on a high note,” Marcelo said regarding the friendly, which Portugal won 4-0. Bruno Fernandes (2x), Gonçalo Ramos and João Mário scored the goals.
Rebelo de Sousa explained to the players that this would be “a very difficult championship”, not only because of the unprecedented timing in the European winter but also because of the “very difficult conditions, from the construction of the stadiums to human rights”.
On Thursday, the Civic Front association asked the president, the prime minister, António Costa, and the speaker of parliament, Augusto Santos Silva, to boycott the event.
However, the president said that he would be in Qatar to watch the debut of the Portuguese national team: “Next week, at the Portugal-Ghana match, I will be there”.
As for the sporting performance, he appreciated Thursday’s game, which showed that the 26 selected players can “be up to the circumstances” in the final phase of the World Cup, having shown “technical competence and team spirit”.
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said, however, that the players should face “each challenge as a final” and that he believed in a possible victory in the final, “but it is very difficult”.
Although the Qatari authorities deny it, several organisations point to thousands of deaths in that country between 2010 and 2019 in World Cup-related work, with a report by the British newspaper The Guardian in February this year putting the figure at 6,500 deaths, which many consider conservative.
In addition to the unexplained deaths, the ‘kafala’ labour system and forced labour, under extreme heat and with long working hours, among other issues, have been recalled and exposed for years by non-governmental organisations and independent reports.
Over the past few years, numerous organisations and institutions have also called for the defence of the rights of fans, and not only those belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community, given the persecution they face in Qatar.
Several teams, such as Denmark, Australia or the United States, have actively positioned themselves against the abuses or in favour of the inclusion and protection of both migrants and the LGBTQIA+ community, both living in the country and those who intend to travel to watch the matches.
The men’s football World Cup will be held between November 20 and December 18, with the Portuguese team placed in Group H with Uruguay, Ghana and South Korea.