Qatar World Cup: French cities move to block fan zones showing games

A month before the World Cup, several major French cities have decided to not organise fan zones showing games at football’s biggest tournament. 

The move comes amid ongoing concerns about the human rights situation in the Gulf country, where investigations have highlighted the plight of migrant workers used to build the stadiums, and rights for LGBTQ people, as well as unease about the tournament’s environmental impact. 

At least 50 labourers died in work-related accidents in Qatar in 2020, according to the International Labour Organization, while at least another 500 more workers were seriously injured.

“You ask me if the city of Paris will make broadcasting zones. I tell you that we won’t. The right solution is not to boycott, because the World Cup will take place,” said Pierre Rabadan, the deputy in charge of sports at the Paris city hall.

“On the other hand, it must be used to improve and regulate labour laws in Qatar so that this does not happen again.”

Some people have also raised concerns about the air-conditioned stadiums created for the games in November and the damage it causes to the environment. 

Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux and Toulouse are among the French cities that have decided not to set up fan zones, which have traditionally been places where large numbers of football supporters gather during World Cup tournaments and watch the games on big screens. 

“I’m a football fan, a World Cup is not to be missed but I must admit that with the controversy that is growing, I sometimes wonder,” one fan said.

“Even me, who is a real football fan, will not be watching this year,” another said.

“For ecological and human rights reasons, I am against the World Cup in Qatar,” another explained.

Other French cities – including Nice and Cannes – will decide whether or not to set up fan zones depending on the performance of the French national team.

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