Do Not Criticise Qatar Too Much Over World Cup as they Give Us Money – Blair

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 21: Tony Blair, Executive Chairman of the Tony Blair Instit
Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair has warned Britons not to criticise World Cup hosts Qatar too much, saying that the Arab nation frequently invests in the UK.

Tony Blair, the former Neoliberal leader of the leftist Labour Party, has said that Britons should avoid criticising the Islamic nation of Qatar too much over its LGBT and human rights record, saying that the country is an ally of the UK that invests heavily within the island.

It comes as leftist governments, campaigners and media outlets heap attacks on both Qatar and world football governing body FIFA over the tournament, which has seen the display of various pro-gay rights symbols curtailed both on and off the pitch.

Although he insisted he was pro-LGBT rights, Blair appeared to criticise this recent social justice-inspired onslaught against Qatar, telling the News Agents podcast that there were lots of reasons to go easy on the country.

“It is not sensible of us to disrespect Qatar,” the former leader argued, saying that the World Cup is the “biggest event they held” with historical significance for the nation.

“…it is a huge event for the country. They are allies of ours, they do invest a huge amount of money in this country,” he continued, arguing that the country, along with other nations in the middle-east, is quickly liberalising.

Pressured on this point, the former PM admitted that people could feel strongly about the issue, but that the continued pressure being put on the country by ministers wearing pro-LGBT armbands in stadiums was unlikely to achieve anything.

“You make your point, but then having made your point, you recognise for the country that it is a really important event,” he said, arguing that while “you can make a protest in whatever way you want”, ministers should still engage with the tournament.

Blair also emphasised that the last time England held the World Cup in 1966, homosexuality was still illegal in the country, saying that Britons were now “in danger of going over the top” with their crusade against anti-LGBT Qatar.

The former Labour leader’s arguments here echo those made by Gianni Infantino, the current president of FIFA, who has attacked western critics of the games as being hypocritical.

“We have been taught many lessons from Europeans and the Western world. I am European. For what we have been doing for 3,000 years around the world, we should be apologising for the next 3,000 years before giving moral lessons… This one-sided moral lesson is just hypocrisy,” the official said earlier this month.

Qatari officials have also been quick to reverse criticism of their human rights record in the run-up to the tournament, with one official accusing the west of racism and Islamophobia amid claims that there was skullduggery surrounding the decision to allow the country to host the tournament.

“We dealt with this in a fair competition and there was no corruption,” former Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani remarked. “Sadly there’s a great deal of discrimination and racism.”

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