Boycotting the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar would be a 'big mistake,' says Belgium manager Roberto Martínez

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez tells CNN that it would be "a big mistake" to boycott the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, saying it would be an "easy escape" as opposed to really impacting change.

Posted: Mar 27, 2021 9:30 PM
Updated: Mar 27, 2021 9:30 PM

As players continue to protest the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Belgium manager Roberto Martínez says boycotting the tournament would be a "big mistake."

On Thursday, German players lined up before their qualifying game against Iceland with "human rights" spelled out across T-shirts, a day after the Norwegian team wore tops bearing the message "human rights on and off the pitch."

A Guardian report last month stated that more than 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since the country was awarded the right to host the World Cup back in 2010, controversially chosen ahead of the likes of the United States and Australia.

"The mortality rate among these communities is within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population," the Qatar government told the Guardian in response.

CNN has not independently verified the Guardian figures.

Several top division clubs in Norway have suggested that the national team should boycott the 2022 World Cup due to the conditions faced by migrant workers in Qatar, but Martínez, who has led Belgium to the top of the FIFA rankings, thinks that would be the wrong approach.

"It would be a big mistake," he told CNN Sport's Don Riddell. "I think it is the time to face that situation and I think boycotting the World Cup wouldn't be the solution.

"I think at the moment, we all know that the situation (with) the World Cup going to Qatar is a unique opportunity to bring the eyes of the world into any aspects that they are not right in society.

"We know that there's been big issues, but we know as well that because of the World Cup, the Qatari government is already putting things in place and will follow all the human rights institutions.

"The message is very clear: don't turn your back. Boycotting is the easy escape. What we need to do is make sure that we all participate and make it a successful World Cup. And then, from that point, make sure that change is there."

With European qualifying matches for the World Cup getting underway this week, Belgium defeated Wales 3-1 on Wednesday and next faces Czech Republic on Saturday and Belarus on Tuesday.

Of his players' protest before their 3-0 win against Iceland, Germany coach Joachim Löw told reporters: "The players have drawn everything on their shirts. It was supposed to be the first statement by us, by the team."

"We stand for human rights, no matter the location. Those are our values. Therefore, it was a very good and important statement."

In a statement to CNN regarding the protests by Norway and Germany, a spokesperson for Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said: "We have always been transparent about the health and safety of workers on projects directly related to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

"Since construction began in 2014, there have been three work-related fatalities and 35 non-work-related deaths. The SC has investigated each case, learning lessons to avoid any repeat in the future. The SC has disclosed each incident through public statements and our Annual Workers' Welfare Progress Reports."

Nasser Al Khater, chief executive of Qatar's 2022 World Cup organizing committee, told CNN in late 2019 that he felt Qatar has been treated "unfairly" ahead of the tournament and "judged by the court of perception very early on."

In response to the protests, FIFA told CNN it would not take any disciplinary action, stressing that it "believes in the freedom of speech, and in the power of football as a force for good."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 941120

Reported Deaths: 15315
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1282511983
Lake633041097
Allen53609758
Hamilton43827447
St. Joseph41906590
Elkhart33545490
Vanderburgh30383448
Tippecanoe26820249
Johnson23609417
Hendricks22250341
Porter21737346
Clark17409229
Madison17366384
Vigo16108281
Monroe14466191
LaPorte14311239
Delaware14070221
Howard13865272
Kosciusko11418135
Hancock10841165
Warrick10674177
Bartholomew10542168
Floyd10430205
Wayne9959226
Grant9130204
Morgan8865160
Boone8389111
Dubois7710123
Dearborn762289
Henry7608130
Noble7413101
Marshall7362128
Cass7176117
Lawrence6957153
Shelby6584111
Jackson656785
Gibson6156107
Harrison603786
Huntington600195
Montgomery5805105
DeKalb574291
Knox5494104
Miami542488
Putnam536768
Clinton533665
Whitley524953
Steuben497268
Wabash483592
Jasper479160
Jefferson470092
Ripley454277
Adams444068
Daviess4169108
Scott405865
White391857
Clay390857
Greene388392
Decatur385296
Wells384983
Fayette374278
Posey359941
Jennings353156
Washington332047
LaGrange321375
Spencer317835
Fountain316555
Randolph312888
Sullivan307449
Owen283863
Starke280064
Fulton277553
Orange275859
Jay254837
Perry251652
Carroll243729
Franklin239338
Rush234130
Vermillion233250
Parke219820
Tipton209655
Pike207639
Blackford168334
Pulaski163551
Crawford146018
Newton144345
Benton142516
Brown135346
Martin128217
Switzerland125810
Warren114616
Union96911
Ohio79711
Unassigned0479

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1365800

Reported Deaths: 21596
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1522221560
Cuyahoga1344852327
Hamilton976051320
Montgomery670271141
Summit562091047
Lucas50900863
Butler47417655
Stark41580976
Lorain31567532
Warren30001331
Mahoning26963639
Clermont25628292
Lake24585417
Delaware22313145
Licking20487241
Fairfield20420221
Greene20309272
Trumbull19866509
Medina19796287
Clark17879328
Richland16314234
Portage16130229
Wood15681208
Allen14115256
Miami13786253
Muskingum12641152
Wayne11946238
Columbiana11708241
Tuscarawas10953269
Marion10725148
Pickaway10465129
Scioto10324127
Erie9747171
Ross9436176
Lawrence8755125
Hancock8458141
Ashtabula8317185
Geauga8173156
Belmont8140187
Jefferson7527172
Huron7423128
Union731851
Washington7183120
Athens697165
Sandusky6848134
Darke6756136
Knox6671122
Seneca6358137
Ashland5948113
Auglaize587188
Shelby5727101
Brown564171
Mercer557890
Defiance5483101
Madison543371
Crawford5425114
Highland541581
Fulton530683
Clinton525580
Logan512182
Preble4994110
Putnam4833106
Guernsey470364
Williams459282
Perry449852
Champaign445964
Ottawa436884
Jackson425362
Pike388843
Morrow383851
Fayette375853
Coshocton374766
Adams360675
Hardin359069
Gallia347356
Holmes3259108
Henry324668
Van Wert314670
Hocking301769
Wyandot280658
Carroll262652
Paulding242243
Meigs213942
Monroe189749
Noble169340
Morgan165829
Harrison157940
Vinton138118
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 59°
Angola
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 54°
Huntington
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 59°
Decatur
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 59°
Van Wert
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 57°
Sunshine and warmer air return to round out the work week, but the warm-up is brief.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events