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Keane: 'To dismiss human rights flippantly for a football tournament, it's not right'

The former Republic of Ireland captain stressed on ITV that the World Cup should not be taking place in Qatar.

Roy Keane slammed Qatar's human-rights record during ITV's World Cup coverage on Tuesday morning.
Roy Keane slammed Qatar's human-rights record during ITV's World Cup coverage on Tuesday morning.

Updated Nov 22nd 2022, 10:33 AM

FORMER REPUBLIC OF Ireland captain Roy Keane has expressed his belief that the World Cup should not be taking place in Qatar, stressing that Fifa’s dismissal of the country’s human-rights abuses in favour of staging this year’s tournament there is “not right”.

Keane, who is working as a pundit for ITV in the Gulf state, criticised Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQ+ community and said that while corruption in high-level sport is inevitable, the conversation around Qatar should “start and finish” with the need to treat people with “common decency.”

Discussing the issue of sportswashing on an ITV panel which also included former Scotland and England internationals Graeme Souness and Joe Cole, Keane told host Laura Woods:

The World Cup shouldn’t be here. It shouldn’t be here. It’s been mentioned about corruption regarding Fifa. We’ve got a country here, the way they treat migrant workers, gay people… I think it’s great that [this mistreatment] has been brought up. They shouldn’t have the World Cup over here. You can’t treat people like that.

“We all love soccer”, the former Manchester United captain added, “and we’re on about spreading the game. But to dismiss human rights flippantly like that for a football tournament, it’s not right. It shouldn’t be here.”

Souness, who had previously said that he was unsure as to whether or not its hosting of football’s showpiece would backfire on Qatar, described football as “such a vehicle for good and bad” and bemoaned what he described as “the sportswashing that’s going on in our own country.”

“There’s no way the Saudis should have Newcastle United,” said the former Liverpool captain. “They shouldn’t be anywhere near it. But it’s not an ideal world that we’re operating in. The Saudis have been investing in our country for decades, they’ve infiltrated every level of our society.

“Football now has such a profile that the Saudis see it, the people in Abu Dhabi see it, the Americans see it as a chance to improve whatever brand they’re involved in. Right now, it’s a different story about Man City. That brand, and the other clubs bought by the Abu Dhabi royal family: it’s only good news about them around the world. And I suppose Qatar will look at Abu Dhabi with a bit of jealousy and hope that, after this tournament, [their international reputation improves].

“It’s in their hands to improve the workers’ rights, it’s in their hands to improve diversification in their country. The LGBTQ society — they won’t go quietly. They’ll be on it all the time, long after this World Cup. That’s the risk that [Qatar] are taking: they’ve highlighted the issues in this country and people will be on them for the foreseeable future, if not forever.”

“The bottom line”, interjected Keane, “is we’re talking about common decency, how you treat people.

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“We go over it again the way in sport — boxing; soccer, obviously, the greatest sport on the planet — there’s so much money involved, there’s always going to be corruption. But let’s get back to basics: you’ve got to treat people with decency. It should start and finish with that.”

Souness, however, wasn’t finished, and concluded by pointing the finger back towards Britain and its colonial history in Ireland and various other corners of the globe:

Can I just say, we’re not perfect as well. Our history… We’re not perfect. The British have not been perfect in many different parts of the world — including Roy’s country.

For the latest news coverage on the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022, see here >

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