Paris joins big screen boycott of World Cup games from Qatar
A French soccer fan reacts while wearing a shirt with the World Cup logo at a Qatar World Cup game in the German city of Cologne, Monday, June 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
PARIS — France’s football federation made clear Monday it won’t be attending the World Cup in Russia later this year because of the ongoing crisis in Qatar against which it has taken the lead in protest.
The move by the federation comes after a French fan at a soccer match wearing a shirt with the Qatar logo was arrested for trying to join the match. It joins calls by thousands of others around the world to boycott the World Cup in Russia.
The federation said Monday it will not be able to afford flights, accommodations or security because of the situation in the Gulf state, which is at odds with its international commitments.
“It is a matter of principle that France is not involved in the World Cup in Russia from the perspective of the country,” federation president Jerome Valcke said in a statement on the federation’s website.
“The country is therefore going to make its own decision, but it will be clear to everyone that it is a decision made after consultations with the French government,” he said.
Valcke, who was speaking during a visit to a school near Paris, said France’s decision was not directed against Russia but against Qatar.
Russia and Qatar, which is hosting the World Cup in May, have been locked in a dispute since June over the small but increasingly influential Al-Udeid Air Base, which is built on the territory of Qatar where the majority of the Muslim country’s ruling class live.
Russia wants the base closed while Qatar has said it is open for joint military projects.
At least 70 people, including foreigners, have been killed in the