Paris joins growing list of French cities boycotting Qatar World Cup fan zones
France (Reuters) – Paris has joined a growing list of French cities boycotting the $11 billion World Cup fan zone planned for Qatar by 2022, but they may have to wait until after the competition to implement their decision, officials said.
FILE PHOTO: A man passes through a World Cup logo at the entrance to the World Cup stadium during a demonstration against Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Mexico City, Mexico December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero
The decision will leave the fate of the tournament up to the International Court of Arbitration in the Hague, but the World Cup is being played under the sponsorship of both Qatar and the French state.
“The French are boycotting the World Cup, which is not legal,” said one source in France.
The World Cup’s host, Qatar, is currently embroiled in a diplomatic crisis, with some of its neighbours cutting diplomatic ties and the government in Doha struggling to attract investment.
That has angered Paris, which fears that the tournament, which it is preparing to host in 2026, would be used as a propaganda tool to boost a new sovereign state.
But on Monday the French government said it would allow the tournament’s host to host the tournament’s fan zone, giving Qatar until Sept. 14 to change its mind.
“We have decided to put them on the backburner,” said a government source. “But the World Cup is over now, it’s over and we can’t help anyone.”
The French government issued a formal statement after talks with the Qatar Football Association over the fate of the fan zone.
Qatar, which has the world’s largest population outside Asia, has been seeking to host the tournament for more than a quarter century.
The World Cup’s organizer FIFA expressed satisfaction with the government’s decision and said it would not be affected.