French national team goalkeeper and 2018 World Cup winner Hugo Lloris joined a chorus of football’s custodians who are now asking fans, and largely the world, to ignore the calamitous decision of handing the 2022 World Cup to Qatar and rather support the biggest event that the game has to offer.
Lloris, a goalkeeper for Premier League club Tottenham Hotspurs, said that the players were the lowest rung of the ladder and that there was intense pressure on them to protest the migrant worker crisis, as well as the human rights violations that have been a part of the lead-up to this World Cup.
“Honestly, I agree [with FIFA’s sentiment],” Lloris said. “There’s too much pressure on the players. We are at the bottom of the chain.
“If you have to apply pressure, first of all it had to be 10 years ago. Now it’s too late. You have to understand that for players this opportunity happens every four years and you want every chance to succeed. The focus has to be on the field. The rest is for politicians. We are athletes,” said Lloris.
Recently FIFA, as well as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), had come up with statements that essentially called the world to come together for this ‘global spectacle’. In a letter sent to the 32 nations participating at the World Cup, accessed by Reuters, the FIFA president Gianni Infantino and general secretary Fatma Samoura asked for the focus to be on football.
“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,” said FIFA in a letter sent to all nations participating at the World Cup.
Two days after the letter, AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa reinstated the premier Asian football body’s support to Qatar and mirrored FIFA’s message that the focus should shift from the politics of the World Cup to the actual game.
“Now more than ever, it is crucial for all of us to wholeheartedly complement their efforts by offering our full support to the tournament in order to help football realize its true potential and build bridges of solidarity and peace through the beautiful game,” remarked Sheikh Salman.
This edition of the FIFA World Cup will see a record six teams from the continent. It is also the first time that Asia has been awarded the World Cup since 2002, when Japan and South Korea co-hosted the tournament.