Former Irish goalie Shay Given says it's "rich" for countries to criticise Qatar ahead of World Cup

Given added that he just wants "to talk about football" instead of the concerns over LGBTQ+ and workers' rights in Qatar.

Photo of Shay Given, who recently spoke about Qatar hosting the World Cup.
Image: Via Instagram - @no1shaygiven

Speaking at RTÉ’s World Cup launch yesterday, November 3, former Ireland international goalkeeper Shay Given said that it’s “rich” for countries to criticise Qatar over violations of the rights of LGBTQ+ people and migrant workers.

Qatar is this year’s host of the World Cup, which will start in less than three weeks and is expected to attract millions of fans from all over the world. The country has recently received widespread criticism over its treatment of migrant workers, as at least 6,500 of them have reportedly died during construction work ahead of the World Cup.

Moreover, both male and female homosexuality is criminalised in Qatar and even punishable with the death sentence under Sharia law. Many activists and soccer stars have expressed concerns over the safety of LGBTQ+ fans going to the World Cup and have criticised FIFA’s decision to let the country host the event.

Commenting on those concerns, Shay Given said: “I feel sometimes it’s a bit rich seeing different parts of the world hammering Qatar”. He continued saying, “There are other countries, and I live in one of them as well, who have done stuff in the past which were not entirely ethical. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Nobody is exempt from things that have happened.”

“There’s talk about protests (in Qatar). I don’t know all the facts because different reports are saying different numbers of people who have passed away. I just want to talk about the football and the excitement of a World Cup. That’s not me brushing it under the carpet.” he added.

Commenting on the former goalkeeper’s stance on the matter, a Twitter user pointed out how Given seemed to be “delighted to go on the record” about how he believes that his excitement about football is more important than “LGBTQ+ people and workers’ rights”.

Another Twitter user commented on the news by saying: “What a selfish and heartless view of the world he has, to actually have a platform and instead of using for good, choosing to use it dismiss people’s suffering like that. Can’t respect someone like this.”

Given’s words seem to echo a letter that FIFA has recently sent to the 32 teams competing in the World Cup. “Please, let’s now focus on the football!” said the letter, as reported by Sky News.

“We know football does not live in a vacuum and we are equally aware that there are many challenges and difficulties of a political nature all around the world.” the letter continued. “But please do not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists.”

Meanwhile, in Qatar, people are dying while working or are being persecuted because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Earlier in October, LGBTQ+ organisation Human Rights Watch revealed that security forces in Qatar are still arbitrarily arresting and abusing LGBTQ+ people, with some reporting experiences of severe beatings and sexual harassment while in police custody.


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