Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal says it is “ridiculous” that this year’s World Cup is being played in Qatar, accusing FIFA of taking the tournament to the Middle East for money and commercial reasons.
Van Gaal said FIFA’s reasons for awarding the finals to Qatar, where his side will be competing in the November and December finals, were spurious.
“Now, everybody knows that I find that ridiculous,” he told a news conference on Monday as his side began preparations for friendlies against Denmark and Germany.
“It’s ridiculous that we are going to play in a country – how does FIFA say it? – To develop the football there, to develop it better there. That is b******t.
“And how are you doing that? By organising a tournament in that country. But it doesn’t matter, it’s about money, commercial interests. That’s the main motive of FIFA.
“Why do you think that I’m not a member of the commission of FIFA? Because I have always taken my distance against these kinds of organisations. It’s not right, but I can say this directly about Qatar, but this does not help the world get rid of this problem.”
The friendlies form part of the Dutch preparations for the finals after they qualified last November.
Former Manchester United manager Van Gaal said he is part of a commission within the Dutch FA (KNVB) which meets every month to evaluate the ongoing situation in Qatar with regards to human rights.
The KNVB has been among the few football associations to criticise human rights and working conditions in Qatar.
“The KNVB has never been in favour of holding the World Cup in Qatar and of course certainly doesn’t approve of the way in which migrant workers are treated there,” it said in a statement last year after a visit to the country.
Qatar has faced international scrutiny over the treatment of workers ever since it won the rights in 2010 to host the first World Cup in the Middle East.
Qatar has said the reported deaths were within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population of the workers concerned, and that the mortality rate had consistently declined since 2010 due to health and safety reforms.
Southgate: Absence of some fans in Qatar ‘a great shame’
Gareth Southgate admits it is a “great shame” that sections of England supporters will not travel to Qatar for the World Cup this winter and stressed that no one is “complacent” to the issues involved.
Male homosexuality is punishable by a prison sentence, same-sex marriages are not recognised by the government and women’s rights are much tighter than in other parts of the world.
England boss Southgate has said he is now ‘clear’ on the issues of hosting the World Cup in the region and plans to hold talks with his squad ahead of the upcoming friendlies against Switzerland and Ivory Coast.
“I think I’m quite clear on the areas of concern about this tournament,” he said. “The building of the stadiums was the first and there’s nothing we can do about that now. They’re built.
“There are obviously ongoing concerns about the rights of workers and the conditions they live in and those areas.
“It seems universally accepted that it’s better than it was but not in the position where people think it could be. And maybe policies that have been put in place are not always enforced as they might be.
“Then there are the issues that potentially threaten our fans when they travel: the rights of women and the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in particular.
“Sadly, through discussions that I’ve had, I don’t think some of those communities are going to go and that’s a great shame.
“We stand for inclusivity as a team – that’s been the big driver of a lot of the stances we’ve taken in the last couple of years – and it would be horrible to think some of our fans feel they can’t go because they feel threatened or they’re worried about their safety.”