Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has lashed out against the unprecedented criticism against his country ever since winning the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The Emir said some of the negative feedback amounts to slander and “include fabrications and double standards that were so ferocious that it has unfortunately prompted many people to question the real reasons and motives,” Sheikh Tamim said.
“We initially dealt with the matter in good faith,” Sheikh Tamim said in a televised policy speech on Tuesday, adding that some of the early criticism was constructive.
Quatar won hosting rights for the World Cup over a decade ago and according to the Emir, the country has since been subjected to “an unprecedented campaign that no host country has ever faced.”
Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup. Most of the criticism has been focused on its treatment of foreign workers and restrictive social laws. The critisism has increased in recent months over Qatar’s criminalization of homosexuality. Adults convicted of consensual gay or lesbian sex faces a prison sentence of one to three years for adults under Qatar law.
European soccer federations last month announced their intention for captains to wear an armband with a rainbow heart design as part of an anti-discrimination campaign during international matches, but Quatar has asked that visitors show respect to the country’s conservative culture, in which public displays of affection — even among heterosexuals — is taboo.
The FIFA World Cup tournament starts on Nov. 20 and the final is set for Dec. 18.