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SPORTS UPDATE

16days to kickoff: FIFA asks teams to focus on football

FIFA have written to World Cup teams urging them to focus on the tournament in Qatar and not be part of lecturing on morality and dragging football “into every ideological or political battle that exists”.

The said letter has been sent amid growing pressure on players to be activists around the tournament.

It has been a World Cup build-up dogged by concerns about the suffering of low-paid migrant workers to build the infrastructure in the tiny Gulf nation and discriminatory laws that criminalise same-sex relations.

“Please, let’s now focus on the football!” Infantino and Samoura wrote to the 32 football nations contesting the World Cup.

The letter does not address the request by England and Wales and six other European nations for their captains to wear “One Love” multicoloured armbands at the World Cup which are a response to concerns about Qatar’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws. Both British nations have already said they would defy any ban by FIFA.

Infantino wrote: “At FIFA, we try to respect all opinions and beliefs, without handing out moral lessons to the rest of the world.

“One of the great strengths of the world is indeed its very diversity, and if inclusion means anything, it means having respect for that diversity. No one people or culture or nation is ‘better’ than any other.

“This principle is the very foundation stone of mutual respect and non-discrimination. And this is also one of the core values of football. So, please let’s all remember that and let football take centre stage.”

Infantino says everyone will be welcome in Qatar “regardless of origin, background, religion, gender, sexual orientation or nationality”.

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