A Sort of Boycott

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A number of major French cities will eschew their normal practice of setting up fan zones showing the World Cup soccer tournament in Qatar next month, in protest against the Gulf country’s human rights record, Euronews reported.

Cities such as Paris, Marseille and Lyon have opted out of organizing fan zones, which have traditionally been places where large numbers of soccer fans gather during World Cup tournaments and watch the games on big screens.

The move is significant as it comes just weeks before the major tournament in Qatar and as France’s national team prepares to defend its title following its victory in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Officials said the decision arises out of concern for Qatar’s human rights situation, including the exploitation of migrant workers and the treatment of LGBTQ people.

The International Labour Organization estimated that at least 50 laborers died in work-related accidents in Qatar in 2020 alone, while at least 500 workers were seriously injured.

Others have also expressed concern over the environmental impact of the competition, such as purpose-built air-conditioned stadiums.

Even so, Pierre Rabadan, the deputy in charge of sports at Paris city hall, added that the move was not a boycott of the games or the Qatari regime, CNN noted.

Meanwhile, other French cities, including Nice and Cannes, are still undecided about whether to set up fan zones.

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