Qatar is facing claims of buyer’s remorse for hosting the World Cup due to the constant negative publicity it has been receiving.
In a widely shared clip on social media, former BBC journalist Jon Sopel said he was told by someone who worked closely with the Gulf state that the country now regrets bidding to host the tournament.
The World Cup has already been affected by Qatar’s stance on LGBT+ rights, the poor treatment of immigrant workers used to build its stadiums, allegations of corruption and the lack of a significant football history in the country.
Summarizing his insider opinion on the country’s response, Sopel said at the News Agent Podcast that a source close to the Qataris had told him: “Why the hell have we bothered? We spent £200bn on this, we are vilified for LGBTQ rights, we are attacked for being corrupt in the way we got the Cup of the world”. .
Watch: Former BBC journalist Jon Sopel suggests Qatar now wishes they didn’t host the World Cup
“We are seen as sort of Victorian in the labor laws that we have, in the way that guest workers have been treated.
“Nothing good has come to us as a result of this. And this has all been a huge waste of money, and I wish it would all go away, but it can’t.”
Sopel added that initial impressions were that the tournament “has gone to shit in many ways.”
Many people have called for the tournament to be boycottedand in a live broadcast, commentator and former Manchester United player Roy Keane said: “The World Cup should not be here.You shouldn’t be here.”
Responding to Sopel on the podcast, veteran journalist Emily Maitlis said that before the World Cup, Qatar was the “little kid” of the region, managing to stay “anonymously rich”.
Compared to Saudi Arabia, which caught the world’s attention with the murder of journalist Jamal KhashoggiMaitlis said Qatar “calmly continued with things in a friendly way with the West.”
“And now they’ve blown it all up, right there in the spotlight, and a spotlight only works if it makes you look better, not worse, and right now they don’t know it does,” she added.
Before the tournament began, FIFA President Gianni Infantino addressed criticism and took aim at Qatar’s European critics in a speech in which he declared “today I feel gay” and “today I feel (like) a worker.” migrant”.
He was heavily criticized for his comments.
One of the highest-profile flashpoints since the tournament began was pushback from some European nations, including England and Wales, over plans to wear OneLove bracelets to show support for LGBT+ rights.
The sale of alcohol to fans in World Cup stadiums was also banned just two days before the tournament began.
And in the opening match, Qatar lost 2-0 to Ecuador on Sunday, with the Al Bayt Stadium apparently shows thousands of empty seatswhich means a disappointing start to the tournament.
Nasser Al Khater, chief executive of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, has insisted that his country is still excited to host the games.
“Qatar 2022 is finally here and we celebrate it with a fascinating opening ceremony, passion in the stands and exciting football on the pitch,” he said.
“Our nation is in the grip of soccer fever and the party will last until the final on December 18.”