Qatar on Friday summoned Germany’s ambassador to protest comments made by a minister casting doubt on whether the Gulf state should host the football World Cup.
Comments by German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser were “unacceptable and provocative” and required a “clarification”, Qatar’s foreign ministry said.
A letter handed to the ambassador highlighted Qatar’s “complete rejection” of Faeser’s comments, who had been due to visit Qatar on Monday.
The conservative Islamic state has faced widespread criticism over its treatment of migrant workers, as well as rights for the LGBTQ community and women.
This is the first time a foreign ambassador has been summoned over such comments.
Faeser, in an interview with the ARD network aired Thursday, said that Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup next month was “very tricky” for Germany.
She added: “There are criteria that must be adhered to and it would be better that tournaments are not awarded to such states.”
Faeser, in a statement released ahead of her visit with the head of the German football federation Bernd Neuendorf, said that rights would be raised in talks.
The German ambassador’s statement
“No World Cup takes place in a vacuum. Human rights always apply everywhere – and now the whole world is paying special attention,” Faeser said.
Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said this week that his energy rich country had been confronted by an “unprecedented campaign” of “double standards”.
The country has highlighted widespread reforms to its labour and industrial safety record in recent years, that have been hailed by international labour unions.
Rights groups have accused it of under-reporting deaths on construction sites over the past decade, and have campaigned for Qatar and football governing body FIFA to set up a compensation fund for workers.
Australia this week became the first World Cup team to release a statement on rights in the host country highlighting the “suffering” of workers.
Qatar responded by insisting that “protecting the health, safety, security, and dignity” of every worker was their “priority.”
Several European captains have said they will wear armbands with rainbow colours and the message “One Love” during games to highlight support for LGBTQ rights.
The spat comes at an awkward time for Germany, which has been negotiating for supplies of Qatari natural gas to make up for losses in Russian deliveries.
It is one of several European countries that have approached Qatar since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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