Welsh First Minister to attend Qatar World Cup despite expected Labour snub

Prime Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford (Peter Byrne/PA)
Prime Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford (Peter Byrne/PA)

Welsh Prime Minister Mark Drakeford still expects to travel to the World Cup in Qatar, despite expectations that Labor will turn down the tournament.

It is clear that Labor does not intend to send any kind of delegation to the games, which start on November 20, and will not be formally represented in Qatar.

It was reported last week that Lucy Powell, the party’s shadow culture and sports secretary, had received an invitation from the Qatari government, but turned it down.

This follows concerns about the treatment of construction workers and the criminalization of same-sex relationships in the country.

Welsh Economy Minister Vaughan Gething (PA)

On Saturday, the Government of Wales indicated that there had been no change in its position since the comments made by Economics Secretary Vaughan Gething to the Parliament of Wales on September 27.

They are expected to watch all of Wales’ group matches against the US, Iran and England, as well as other matches, depending on the team’s progress in the tournament.

During his statement, Mr Gething acknowledged that there were “significant challenges” with the World Cup being hosted in Qatar, citing human rights and workers’ rights records, and that some LGBTQ+ fans are not traveling there.

He said: “We will use our platform as an opportunity to express our values ​​and show that Wales is a country of values ​​on the world stage.”

“We believe it is better to work with countries that do not always share our values ​​of human rights, LGBTQ+ rights, workers’ rights, and political and religious freedom.

“Involvement with countries provides an opportunity to develop a platform for further discussion, raise awareness and potentially influence a change in approach.”

The Welsh Government first indicated that its stance on attendance had not changed in WalesOnline.

Last week, the Mail on Sunday reported that Ms Powell would not be traveling to the tournament.

PvdA conference 2021
Shadow Shadow Culture and Sports Secretary Lucy Powell (PA)

Ms Powell said: “Of course I am looking forward to the World Cup and I will be cheering for England.

“But we cannot take our eyes off the problems in Qatar.

“And LGBT fans from England and Wales have to accept the tournament being played in a country where their sexuality has been criminalized.

“I’m excited to be cheering on the England team from my sitting room and from my local pub.”

Ahead of the tournament, Liz Ward, program director at Stonewall, said the value of inclusion has never been more important.

“As we approach the 2022 Men’s World Cup, we must remember that Qatar is a country where LGBTQ+ people are persecuted simply for being themselves,” she said.

“Unfortunately, this year’s tournament isn’t safe for everyone, which is why it’s so important to see players and fans get up to be counted.

“The World Cup is a pivotal moment for the global sports community to stand up and denounce the criminalization and persecution of LGBTQ+ people in Qatar.”


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