Updated: Aug 15
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The Netherlands’ head coach, Louis van Gaal, has said it is “ridiculous” that the 2022 men’s World Cup is being played in Qatar, claiming the decision to hold the tournament there is “about money [and] commercial interests”.
Speaking at a press conference before home friendlies against Denmark on Saturday and Germany next Tuesday, Van Gaal was asked his opinion on the Middle Eastern country hosting the finals, which will take place from 21 November to 18 December.
“Now, everybody knows that I find that ridiculous,” said Van Gaal, whose Dutch side have qualified for the finals after missing the 2018 tournament. “It’s ridiculous that we are going to play in a country – how does Fifa say it? To develop the football there. That is bullshit. But it doesn’t matter – it’s about money, commercial interests. That’s the main motive of Fifa.
“Why do you think that I’m not a member of the Fifa commission, with my Uefa expertise?” the former Barcelona and Manchester United manager added. “Because I have always [kept] my distance against these kinds of organisations. It’s not right, but I can say this directly about Qatar – but that does not help the world to get rid of this problem.”
The 70-year-old also said he is part of a commission within the Dutch football association (KNVB) that meets every month to evaluate the human rights situation in Qatar. The KNVB is one of few national associations to speak out over working conditions in Qatar.
In a statement last year, following a visit to the country, it said: “The KNVB has never been in favour of holding the World Cup in Qatar and of course certainly doesn’t approve of the way in which migrant workers are treated there.”
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Following his press call on Monday, it was announced on Tuesday that Van Gaal has tested positive for Covid and is now in isolation. His assistants Danny Blind, Henk Fraser and Frans Hoek – will take over the team’s preparations, where Van Gaal intends to experiment with a 3-4-3 formation.
Qatar has faced international scrutiny over the treatment of workers since winning the rights to host the first World Cup in the Middle East. Last year Dutch players, along with national team players for Germany and Norway, wore shirts before World Cup qualifiers raising human rights concerns.
The Guardian reported in February 2021 that there had been at least 6,500 migrant worker deaths in Qatar since the country was awarded hosting rights in 2010, although the records had not been categorised by occupation or place of work.
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The Qatari government said that the number of deaths – which it did not dispute – was proportionate to the size of the migrant workforce, and that the mortality rate had consistently declined since 2010 due to health and safety reforms.
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