The St Vincent and the Grenadines prime minister has blasted “deranged and unhinged” critics of the Qatar World Cup, including the UK, in a gushing endorsement of the first Arab country to host football’s showpiece event.
St Vincent and Qatar hold diplomatic relations and PM Dr Ralph Gonsalves said that Qatar’s staging of the 2022 World Cup underlined its “growing stature and influence in the global political economy”.
Gonsalves insisted that the controversy surrounding Qatar’s hosting was “dressed up as high principle, is laced with Islamophobia, racism, anti-Arab sentiment, hypocrisy, and profound disrespect, derived from the notion that a small Arab country like Qatar should never aspire to global influence”.
Gonsalves stated: “It is thus unfortunate, and prejudicial to global peace, security, and progress, that Qatar has faced unjustified, even deranged and unhinged, criticisms as hosts of the World Cup, emanating from some non-governmental organisations and ‘tabloid’ journalists located in North Atlantic countries such as Britain, the United States of America, and Western Europe.”
Gonsalves, 76, has made a number of official visits to Qatar. He added that critics “sneer at, and mock” the region’s three million population, with migrant workers outnumbering the 400,000 Qataris.
“The truth is that Qatar is an amazing country that is soaring to higher heights!” said Gonsalves, who was last in Qatar in February.
Criticism of Qatar centres on its human rights record and laws banning same-sex relationships, with those found guilty potentially facing the death sentence or lengthy jail terms.