Scotland on Sunday leader comment : Wondering who to support at the World Cup - how about human rights?

The strangest ever World Cup kicks off today, but any hope from Fifa that controversy will give way to football is forlorn.

A general view of Stadium 974 ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
A general view of Stadium 974 ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

The tournament should not be happening, should never have been awarded to Qatar and stands as the ultimate disgrace for the game’s tone-deaf governing body.

What should be a joyous festival of football instead is a sickening international embarrassment.

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Nations taking part which, unlike Qatar, have a track record of democracy, rights for minority groups and respect for migrant workers have a responsibility now to highlight abuses and shame their hosts at every opportunity.

Homosexuality in Qatar is still illegal and anyone found participating in same-sex sexual activity can be punished with up to seven years in prison. When the emphasis should be on making the beautiful game inclusive and welcoming to all, stamping out disgusting Neanderthal attitudes, Fifa is requiring 800 players to travel to a country where statistically dozens would be considered criminals just for who they are.

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Nicola Sturgeon was asked last week whether the SFA should attend the tournament. Of course they should not but Ms Sturgeon insisted it was a matter for individual sporting bodies.

She did, however, press the message that we can all support.

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“As the World Cup gets under way later this week in Qatar I think it is a really important moment for all of us, regardless of party, regardless of anything else that might divide us, to stand in solidarity with the LGBT+ community, in Scotland, in the UK, in Europe and right across the world.

“And I hope that will unite all of us.”

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She went on: “I would certainly hope anybody attending the World Cup in Qatar in any capacity would take the opportunity to express solidarity with the LGBT+ community.

“I think that is what is even more important over the next few weeks than sport, that we take the opportunity to stand up for human rights and the dignity of those in that community and that we unite around that sentiment today and right throughout the period of the competition in Qatar.”

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Scotland on Sunday does not always agree with the First Minister but we wholeheartedly support that message.

This tournament should never be happening and the reaction will hopefully ensure one of the most prestigious sporting tournaments in the world is never awarded again in such appalling circumstances.

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Forget the football, fans everywhere should be united in their condemnation to send a message to Qatar, Fifa, and the world.

For Scotland fans wondering who to support, the answer is clear – basic human rights.

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