FIFA has called on the teams participating in the Qatar WC to “focus on football”.

FIFA has called on the teams participating in the controversial Qatar World Cup to “focus on football” and stop “handing out moral lessons” in a letter revealed by Sky News on Thursday. Qatar has faced criticism for its human rights record on the treatment of foreign workers on major infrastructure projects for the World Cup, on women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights. Homosexuality is illegal in the Gulf state and captains from a number of leading European countries, including England, France, and Germany, will wear armbands in rainbow colors with the message “One Love” in an anti-discrimination campaign.

Last week, the Australian national team condemned the “suffering” of migrant workers.

“Please let’s now focus on the football!” FIFA president Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura said in a letter sent to all 32 World Cup teams, confirmed to AFP by world football’s governing body.

“We know football does not live in a vacuum and we are equally aware that there are many challenges and difficulties of a political nature all around the world.

“But please do not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists.”

Qatar organizers have defended the country’s rights record.

After the Australian players’ criticism, a World Cup spokesperson said imposing “robust” labor laws had also been a “challenge” for Australia.

Earlier this week, the Arab League states slammed criticism of Qatar as a “defamation campaign” ahead of the tournament.

“One of the great strengths of the world is indeed its very diversity, and if inclusion means anything, it means having respect for that diversity,” continued the FIFA letter.

“No one people or culture or nation is ‘better’ than any other.”

Qatar Labour Minister Ali bin Samikh Al Marri told AFP on Wednesday that calls for a new compensation fund for migrant workers was a “publicity stunt”. He also accused some of the country’s critics of “racism”.

“They don’t want to allow a small country, an Arab country, an Islamic country, to organize the World Cup,” Marri said.

In 2010, Qatar clinched the rights to the World Cup after winning a ballot of Fifa’s 22 executive members. It defeated bids from the US, South Korea, Japan, and Australia. It is the first Middle Eastern nation to host the tournament

The irony is that many countries criticizing Qatar think that the host has to change its culture, labor laws, and religious practice just for the sake of a few players kicking a ball around. Issues such as gay rights or migrant abuse are two of a series of political and social issues that are being used to disrupt the hosting of the FIFA World Cup.

Apart from the sore loser Australia that lost to Qatar in the 2010 voting, all other calls are from European countries who have a plethora of social issues themselves which have not been solved and countries where the far right,  racist and fascist in their ideologies, are slowly but firmly gaining strength. 

Then there is the hypocrisy of these countries. Qatar has not changed much and not yielding to their demands, yet not a single qualified country is willing to withdraw. Many European countries boycotted the Moscow 1980 Olympics, but none did the same when the USA invaded Afghanistan and then Iraq !!

There is far too much money at stake in the FIFA World Cup!