Will Qatar allow Israeli fans to attend FIFA World Cup 2022?

New report suggests Qatar may not be in compliance with FIFA’s ethical code.

By
August 28, 2019 19:14
4 minute read.
A computer generated image of Lusail Stadium that will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup final, in Qatar

A computer generated image of Lusail Stadium that will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup final, with seating capacity of 80,000, in Lusail City, north of central Doha, Qatar. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Islamic regime in Qatar went silent this week about whether Israelis can visit the Gulf state to view the 2022 FIFA World Cup, triggering questions about whether Doha is in compliance with the soccer federation’s ethical code. 


The Jerusalem Post reviewed a new report by Cornerstone Global Associates, a British consulting firm, that stated “banning fans based on a nationality is a clear breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics.”  
The Cornerstone report, “FIFA World Cup 2022: Reputational risk and sponsorship,” stated that as of June 2019, Israeli citizens are unable to apply for visas to visit Qatar.  


“The Qatari official website does not list Israel as a country where visas can be applied for, let alone visa-free entry,” it said.  


Fox News first reported on Qatar’s alleged failure to comply with FIFA’s ethical rules in connection with Israelis. 


Neither Qatar’s Foreign Ministry or its embassy in Washington, D.C. returned emails and telephone calls by The Jerusalem Post for comment.  


The Post also contacted FIFA and sponsors of the World Cup regarding possible conflicts between the companies’ ethical policies and Qatar’s alleged bias against Israelis, LGBTQ people, and Egyptians. 


“FIFA's position on inclusivity and the protection of human rights is unequivocal, and clearly laid out in the FIFA Statutes, FIFA’s Human Rights Policy and several FIFA regulations and codes − discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of race, skin color, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, language, religion, opinion, wealth, birth or any other status is strictly prohibited,” a FIFA spokesman told the Post. “FIFA strives to create a discrimination-free environment within its organization and for all of its activities and events.” 


The spokesperson said that, “In relation to the FIFA World Cup 2022, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) is fully aware of its responsibility to adhere to FIFA’s human rights and non-discrimination, equality and neutrality statutes” and that the country is committed to ensuring that everyone will be welcome to the tournament, to building bridges of cultural understanding and to creating an inclusive experience for all participants, attendees and local communities. 

“In line with this fundamental commitment, people from all countries and faiths will be welcome at the FIFA World Cup 2022, including members from the LGBTI+ community,” the spokesman added. 


When World Cup sponsors were asked if they would pull out if Qatar banned Israelis or any others, they evaded the question or did not answer. 


For example, Claudia Lange, the head of media relations for the sport-shoe manufacturer Adidas, said, “We consider sport to be a platform for fairness and mutual respect. We fully support every effort to make football a space where all individuals are fully accepted and able to be themselves to make the sport everyone’s game. We will continue our dedicated work with Human Rights Campaign and all of our business partners to promote an accepting and diverse world.” 


David Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for the South Korean Hyundai Motor Company, said he forwarded the inquiry “to our colleagues in the Global PR team.” Hyundai did not immediately respond. Spokespeople for the credit card company Visa and the soft drink company Coca-Cola did not respond to multiple queries. 


The Cornerstone report additionally showed that Qatar state-affiliated entities have been accused of antisemitism.  


“In May 2019, AJ+, part of the Qatari state-owned Aljazeera network, published a video that questioned the Holocaust,” the report showed. “After an outcry from around the world, AJ+ deleted the video and suspended the journalists responsible.” 


The videos that were taken down were in English. And Cornerstone maintained that, “At the time of writing this report, Aljazeera Arabic has not withdrawn any articles nor suspended any of the Arabic language journalists for the antisemitic material.” 


There is reason to believe that Qatar would ban Egyptians from the World Cup. According to the Cornerstone report, the CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, said in May that Qatar would not issue visas to “its enemies.” 


Al Baker was referring to the Egyptians. Qatar’s monarchy declined to answer Post queries if Egyptian fans can attend the World Cup.


However, until now, all reports indicate that Israelis will be able to attend. 


In October 2017, the New York Times reported that Qatar’s Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Hassan Al Thawadi, said, in response to a question about whether Israeli fans would be allowed to attend the World Cup: “Everyone is welcome. It’s a simple answer: everybody is welcome.”


Al Thawadi said about LGBT fans, “Everyone is welcome to come to Qatar. What we ask is that when people come just to respect — we’re a relatively conservative nation. 


“Public display of affection is something that’s not part of our culture,” he continued. “So, all we ask is that every fan who comes in, and every fan is welcome, is that people respect that.”


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