Paris joins TV boycott of World Cup matches from Qatar

PARIS — Paris will not show World Cup matches on giant screens in public fan zones due to concerns over migrant worker rights abuses and the environmental impact of the tournament in Qatar.

It follows similar moves from other French cities, despite France being the defending champions.

“There is the problem of the environmental impact”, Pierre Rabadan, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of sports, told France Bleu Paris radio on Tuesday, referring to “air-conditioned stadiums”.

“The conditions under which these facilities were built are also to be questioned,” he added.

The move comes as the city’s football club, Paris Saint-Germain, is owned by Qatar Sports Investments.

“We have a very constructive relationship with the club and its entourage but that doesn’t stop us from saying when we disagree,” said Rabadan.

A growing number of French cities are refusing to erect screens to show World Cup matches in protest at Qatar’s human rights record.

The mayor of Strasbourg, the northeast seat of the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights, cited allegations of human rights abuses and exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar as the reason for the cancellation of public broadcasts of the World Cup.

“It is impossible for us to ignore the many warnings of abuse and exploitation of migrant workers by non-governmental organizations,” Jeanne Barseghian said in a statement. “We cannot tolerate these abuses, we cannot turn a blind eye when human rights are violated.”

And then there’s the environmental impact, Barseghian said.

“While climate change is a palpable reality, with fires, droughts and other disasters, hosting a football tournament in the desert defies common sense and amounts to an ecological disaster,” she said.

Arnaud Deslandes, deputy mayor of Lille, said that by canceling public viewing of the matches, the northern city wanted to send a message to FIFA about the irreparable damage of the Qatar tournament to the environment.

“We want to show FIFA that money isn’t everything,” Deslandes told The Associated Press in an interview.

As for the reactions of the inhabitants to the city’s decision, he added: “I have not yet met a Lille resident who has been disappointed by our decision”.

The gas-rich emirate has come under heavy criticism over the past decade for its treatment of migrant workers, mostly from South Asia, who were needed to build tens of billions of dollars worth of stadiums, metro lines, roads and hotels.

Qatar has been equally fierce in denying accusations of human rights abuses and has repeatedly dismissed allegations that the safety and health of the 30,000 workers who built the World Cup infrastructure were compromised. compromised.

Environmental activists across France have backed the cancellation of public viewing in fan zones because outdoor viewing runs from November 20 to December 20. 19 tournament would use the energy that the country stores for the winter.

In the southwestern city of Bordeaux, authorities have raised concerns about the energy cost associated with outdoor public broadcasts in the cold winter weather. The French government is calling for a sharp 10% reduction in the country’s energy consumption to avoid the risk of rationing cuts this winter amid tensions with the Russian supplier over the war in Ukraine.

“We are trying to save energy,” Bordeaux Mayor Pierre Hurmic told the AP.

He added: “It doesn’t make sense to roll out the red carpet at such a costly event in terms of energy and environmental impact.”

Surk reported from Nice, France. Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to it.

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