Dáil debates

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

World Cup

10:30 pm

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

Our consular team is ready and waiting to support people if they need it. The team is second to none internationally. We do not have an embassy in Qatar but we have an embassy very close by and a team on the ground in Qatar to help Irish citizens should that be required. With regard to the links between sport and politics on this issue, in some ways, it is unfair to criticise players. They are sports people rather than politicians. Of course if they wish to make a political statement, they should be allowed to do so as should anybody else. However, it is absolutely extraordinary that FIFA has effectively chosen to lean on national football associations in different countries to prevent players wearing an armband to support LGBT+ rights. That is a political intervention by FIFA to limit freedom of expression, which is worthy of significant mention and criticism.

We will talk to Qatar about the whole other range of issues. That part of the world is very different from this part of the world and one will see these tensions when there is a clash of civilisations and so on. However, to say a player who wishes to wear a rainbow-coloured armband in the context of the concerns they may have about LGBT rights in that part of the world or, indeed, any other rights that are consistent with international law will be punished on the pitch is, from a FIFA point of view, pretty poor form to put it mildly. However, that is what we have seen in an effort to try to avoid even a small symbol of political concern in the context of some of the issues that have been raised in the build-up to this World Cup. It is very regrettable and shows FIFA in a pretty poor light to say the least.


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