DOHA, Qatar (Wolschaffs) – A day after the ban on beer in stadiums sparked fresh criticism of Qatar’s choice to host the World Cup, the head of the tournament’s organizing organization published an open letter on Saturday (19).
Hassan Al-Thawadi, Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, said the first match would end “a long and sometimes arduous journey of 12 years”. The country won the right to host the tournament in December 2010.
The World Cup begins Sunday (20) with the host team and Ecuador.
In a kind of reckoning with critics, Al Thawadi said that censorship of Qatar is often aided by “racist images based on old prejudices and stereotypes of the Middle East and the Arab world”.
In the past decade, human rights advocates have decried the precarious working conditions of migrants involved in civil construction work, the oppression of the LGBTQIA+ community and the lack of rights for women.
In addition to noting that the World Cup is a catalyst for changes in the country, he celebrated the success in staging the event.
“Despite those who think Qatar and the Arab world are unfit or unworthy to host, the facts suggest that people disagree: 97% of tickets are sold. The UK is among the top five markets for these sales.”
A message from Thawadi
Sunday night, in Al Khor, Qatar, will mark a defining moment in the Arab world in history when Qatar and Ecuador open the World Cup. The Opening Ceremony will conclude and begin a long and sometimes arduous journey of 12 years since we were first awarded the right to host the world’s largest event in our region.
This World Cup is probably the most written and talked about, even before the ball has been kicked. It is very unfortunate that much of this commentary has veered into accepting misinformation, dismissing nuance and depth, and often underpinning racist tropes based on age-old prejudices and stereotypes of the Middle East and the Arab world.
This does not mean that we exclude constructive criticism. We are directly involved and take note of every word. We assure you that this tournament highlights progress, contributes to internationally recognized labor reforms in our country.
Our vision for this tournament was to serve as a platform to unite East and West, recognizing our differences and celebrating our common humanity through the passion that ultimately unites us – football.
In today’s global climate, we must appreciate these rare opportunities to meet. The beauty of the World Cup is that it attracts people from all over the world, from all walks of life, and leaves a legacy of friendship and understanding that breaks down misunderstandings, prejudices and stereotypes.
This is very important for the 450 million people in our region who live and breathe football. Our peoples are connected by history, language, culture and religions. Different countries maintain their own subtleties. What is indisputable is that football, from Algeria to Qatar, is our common passion. Since 1930, we have seen history created on every continent during the World Cup. And this time, it is our turn to make history in our land.
Despite those who think Qatar and the Arab world are unfit or unworthy to host, the facts show that people disagree: 97% of tickets are sold out. The UK is among the top five markets for these sales.
We are passionate about welcoming people and sharing the culture of hospitality that we as Qataris and Arabs enjoy. We are proud of who we are and the values we stand for. We are a nation that has always defended openness, dialogue between peoples, and bringing people together. These values are at the heart of the World Cup.
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