Qatar has faced an “unprecedented campaign” of criticism since winning the bid to host next month’s FIFA World Cup, according to the leader of the country, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
He made the claims in a televised policy speech, conceding that some of the early criticism Qatar received was actually constructive.
“We initially dealt with the matter in good faith, and even considered that some criticism was positive and useful, helping us to develop aspects of ours that need to be developed,” he said to Qatar’s legislative council.
“But it soon became clear to us that the campaign continues, expands and includes fabrication and double standards, until it reached an amount of ferocity that made many questions, unfortunately, about the real reasons and motives behind this campaign.”
He said that since winning “the honor of hosting the World Cup, Qatar has been subjected to an unprecedented campaign that no host country has ever faced.”
Qatar won its hosting bid in 2010 and came under intense international scrutiny for the way it allegedly treated the migrant workers building the tournament’s stadium, as well as for its restrictive local laws on matters such as homosexuality.
On Monday, a Human Rights Watch report alleged that members of Qatar’s LGBTQ+ community had been detained and physically abused by security services last month, which the country’s government said was “categorically and unequivocally false.”
Reports have claimed that Qatar will loosen some of its laws for the competition, which is expected to receive around 1.2 million visitors, and Sheikh Tamim said that hosting the FIFA showpiece was “a great test for a country the size of Qatar.”
We accepted this challenge out of our faith in our potential, we the Qataris, to tackle the mission and make it a success,” he explained. “It is a championship for all, and its success is success for all.”
The 2022 Qatar World Cup kicks off on November 20 and will run until the finals on December 18.
Russia World Cup 2018 champion France will look to successfully defend the crown for the first time in their history, while other favorites to lift the trophy include Brazil, which has won the tournament a record five times.