Macron says World Cup in Qatar ‘should not be politicized’
The French president, speaking at a news conference Wednesday evening, defended his country’s hosting of the World Cup, saying his criticism of US President Donald Trump in the past had been taken the wrong way.
“I don’t think it should be politicized, and I don’t think it should be an excuse for the United States not to play,” he said.
“The president himself did not ask for the soccer team to be sent to America.”
When Trump said he found the decision “humbling” as he watched the World Cup in Brazil on television as a tourist, Macron countered that the US president’s visit to the tournament had been “a demonstration of his global leadership, his respect for the universal values.”
He said the event in Qatar had been an “extraordinarily successful” celebration of global diversity.
The soccer tournament is the most lucrative in world history, with revenue expected to exceed $10 billion. After the tournament, the tournament’s organizers will present the games’ world governing body with a check for $9.2 billion.
It’s been a rough road for France, which has lost key players to big-money transfers since the financial crisis began to hit Europe in 2008. The country’s former president, Francois Hollande, resigned after his decision to stage the World Cup was overruled by then-French prime minister and now president.
“Everything that’s happened with Qatar has been a setback for Europe, and in particular for European companies, in particular in France,” Macron said.
“But on the other hand, the World Cup in Qatar has been a great success for this country and a real success in terms of tourism, which is the most important economic aspect of Qatar today.”
French soccer federation president, Christian Jacob, said all French athletes participating in the tournament were in agreement with the decision. They will wear “La Marseillaise” during the game.
Asked if more pressure could yet come on sponsors like Qatar Airways, which are cutting its flights to Qatar and halting new flights, he said “no more, that would be a tragedy.”
The Qatar government said Wednesday evening it would honor French diplomatic passports and visas and