Rishi Sunak sparks fury for saying 'hats off to Qatar'

‘You cannot be serious’: Rishi Sunak sparks fury for saying ‘hats off to Qatar’ in ‘tone deaf’ tweet praising Gulf state for hosting an ‘incredible’ World Cup

  • The Prime Minister wrote: ‘Hats off to Qatar for hosting an incredible World Cup’
  • Social media users quickly reminded PM of controversies blighting the event
  • Treatment of migrant workers and crackdown on support for LGBTQ rights are among some of the concerns surrounding the tournament in Qatar 

Rishi Sunak has said ‘hats off’ to controversial host nation Qatar for its efforts in hosting what he described as ‘an incredible World Cup’.

Writing on social media just minutes before England’s knockout tie with Senegal gets underway in the Qatari capital, the Prime Minister said: ‘Hats off to Qatar for hosting an incredible World Cup so far.

‘The group stages will be remembered as one of the all-time greats. Come on England keep the dream alive.’ 

The ‘tone deaf’ message quickly drew ire as social media users piled in to remind the Prime Minister of the various controversies blighting the tournament, in particular the treatment of migrant workers and the crackdown on support for LGBTQ rights. 

Rishi Sunak has said ‘hats off’ to controversial host nation Qatar for its efforts in hosting what he described as ‘an incredible World Cup’ (Sunak pictured November 30, Downing St.) 

The congratulatory message quickly drew ire as social media users piled in to remind the Prime Minister of the various controversies blighting the tournament

FIFA President Gianni Infantino talks with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group G football match between Brazil and Switzerland at Stadium 974 in Doha on November 28, 2022

‘Which hats? The ones Welsh supporters were told they couldn’t wear because they had a few [sic] too many colours on them?’ one user quipped.

‘Hard hats maybe?’ another chipped in. 

‘Although I doubt they would have helped save the lives of the immigrant construction workers trying to build stadiums and infrastructure in the extreme heat of the desert summer.’

Other users were even more cutting in their sarcastic remarks.

‘Yes hats off to them. All that was required was bribery of 11 FIFA committee members, moving the whole tournament to a new time of year and imposing slavery conditions on migrant workers,’ one user said scathingly.

Others however were more positive, defending Qatari authorities for their efforts.

‘Originally from Manchester UK, I’ve lived and worked in Qatar since 2010,’ one user said.

‘The preparation, trials and organisation that has gone into this event has been immense.’



The congratulatory message quickly drew ire as social media users piled in to remind the Prime Minister of the various controversies blighting the tournament

In the run up to the tournament, much of the concern around the World Cup focused on the reports that thousands of migrant workers had died as Qatar rushed to build the facilities required to host what is one of the world’s largest sporting spectacles.

A top Qatari official earlier this week said the number of workers who died while building World Cup stadiums for the on-going tournament is ‘between 400 and 500’. 

The figure is a drastically higher number than any other previously offered by Doha.

But in 2021, an investigation conducted by the Guardian reported that 6,500 migrant workers had died since the country was awarded the rights to host the World Cup in 2010 by FIFA.

One the tournament got underway, the biggest flashpoint for controversy became the crackdown of tournament officials on rainbow clothing and other multicoloured accessories.

Homosexuality remains illegal in Qatar and can be punishable by up to seven years in prison. 

A top Qatari official involved in the country’s World Cup organisation has put the number of worker deaths for the tournament ‘between 400 and 500’ for the first time, a drastically higher number than any other previously offered by Doha. Pictured: Migrant workers in Qatar

A pitch invader runs across the field with a rainbow flag during the World Cup group H soccer match between Portugal and Uruguay, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022

Teams were threatened with sporting sanctions if they chose to wear a ‘OneLove’ armband in support of LGBTQ rights in Qatar

Sunak’s controversial tweet comes two days after he spoke with the emir of Qatar and the president of Turkey to discuss defense collaboration and the Ukraine crisis, Downing Street said in a statement.

Sunak and Qatar’s head of state Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani also agreed to continue to work together bilaterally as well as through a future Gulf Cooperation Council trade deal, the statement said.

The prime minister offered his condolences for the recent terrorist attacks in Turkey in his call with President Erdogan, and stressed the UK´s commitment to upholding regional security as bilateral and NATO partners, it read.

After FIFA threatened European teams wearing ‘One Love’ armbands with in-game discipline earlier in the tournament, many fans took it upon themselves to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community.

Days after fans complained they were blocked from stadiums because of rainbow attire, FIFA offered assurances that Qatari security would allow the items into matches. The rule has been unevenly enforced.

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