The former President of the Republic François Hollande assured Thursday that if he was still in office at the Elysée, he “would not go” to the Football World Cup which is due to start in two months in Qatar (November 20 -18 December).
“If I were the head of state, I would not go,” said the former president (2012-2017) during the meeting + Demain le sport + organized at the Maison de la Radio in Paris.
“I cannot ask football players (…) not to go to a competition for which they have been preparing for years,” he explained.
“I think that for a PSG player to talk about Qatar is not necessarily easy, compared to his employer,” added the former head of state.
“On the other hand, high-level players or athletes, and there are many of them, have been able to act to fight against the racism of which they themselves were victims. They were able to commit to certain causes, in particular the climate issue or human rights,” recalled François Hollande.
“Perhaps some will speak when they are at the World Cup, but that’s not sure, because it’s not the place where it’s convenient to give your point of view when you’re expecting player that he first fulfills his mission which is to win his competition,” he said.
“When Mbappé takes a position on a subject, it will considerably mobilize a certain number of young people (…) when we see the number of followers on social networks”, he added.
“Being athletic is not just playing with a ball and running fast, it’s also having a social role, and it’s not so easy to impose this responsibility on the players,” said François Hollande.
In France, the deputies of LFI castigated Thursday the holding of the World Cup-2022 in Qatar, evoking the “mistreatment of immigrant workers” and the “air-conditioned matches in the open air”, demanding a “strong political response from the French authorities”.
Calls not to follow the World Cup in Qatar, criticized on human rights or the environment, are beginning to appear two months before the start of the competition, without meeting a massive echo for the time being.
“The position of telling viewers not to watch the game, luckily there is no one behind them to tell them what to do,” added François Hollande.