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Dublin: 9°C Sunday 16 May 2021

Qatar manager refuses to explain decision not to join Irish players in anti-racism protest

The Irish players and staff took a knee ahead of last night’s game with the controversial World Cup hosts.

Qatar manager Felix Sanchez Bas.
Qatar manager Felix Sanchez Bas.
Image: PA

QATAR MANAGER FÉLIX Sánchez Bas declined to explain why the Qatar players and staff did not follow the Ireland in taking a knee ahead of last night’s friendly between the sides in Hungary. 

Stephen Kenny, his coaching staff and the Irish players dropped to one knee in a familiar anti-racism protest as the referee blew his whistle to kick off the game, as the Qatar players and staff remained standing. 

Post-game, Bas was asked why his players chose not to protest, and was also asked his opinion on the protests by the players of Norway, Germany, and the Netherlands ahead of their respective games last week, in which they highlighted human rights abuses in Qatar. 

When the question was asked, the Qatar press officer interjected, “Let me answer this. First there was an agreement between us and the Irish FA, and regarding the human rights [protests] we respect that and the International Labour Organisation are aware of the progress in our country. Thank you.” 

Bas was then asked to answer the question. 

“I repeat the same answer my colleague said. Also I have to tell you I am a national team coach and I am here in a press conference from one football game and that’s what I am going to talk about because that’s why I am here.” 

All other requests for questions from the Irish journalists on the Zoom press conference were then ignored. 

The game finished 1-1, with James McClean’s early goal cancelled out by Mohamed Muntari’s equaliser in the opening minute of the second half. Compared to Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Luxembourg it was an improved performance by Ireland, bu the result means they remain without a win in 11 games under Stephen Kenny. 

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“Tonight’s result doesn’t really erase the Luxembourg game because that was in the back of our minds coming into this game”, said McClean after the game. 

“We knew that something had to change. Everyone was hurt and embarrassed from Saturday and people had a point to prove, to go out there and put things right in a sense. Everyone is behind the manager. The Luxembourg result was on us as players and we’ve to take that.

“The manager and staff prepared us right for the game. We didn’t turn up and we got punished. That’s what happens at this level.”

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Gavin Cooney

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