Paris has become the latest European city to protest against the playing of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar by cancelling the public screening of matches. Other French cities have announced a similar move and several European football federations are also looking at ways to protest against the tournament being held in Qatar without going as far as a complete boycott.
Announcing the decision, the deputy mayor of Paris, Pierre Rabadan, who is in charge of sports for the city, said that the decision against the public screening of matches is due to "the conditions of the organisation of this World Cup, both on the environmental and social level."
Rabadan explained that "air-conditioned stadiums" and the "conditions in which these facilities have been built are to be questioned." Nevertheless, he stressed that the decision was not a boycott of the tournament itself but Qatar's model of staging big events, which he argued "goes against what Paris wants to organise." The French capital is due to host the 2024 Olympic Games.
Any speculation that there is tension between the city authorities and the Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain Football Club was laid to rest by Rabadan. "We have very constructive relations with the club and its entourage yet it doesn't prevent us to say when we disagree," he explained.
Strasbourg has cited allegations of human rights abuses and the exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar as the reason for its cancellation of public screenings of matches during the tournament. Doha has strongly denied such allegations.
Lille also announced that it is cancelling public screenings, as has Bordeaux, although the city in south-west France cited high energy costs for the cancellation. Installing public viewing stations during winter when energy prices have risen so much will be prohibitively expensive.
Despite taking part in the tournament, several European football federations announced recently that they will be staging protests. Denmark, for example, has toned down the logo of the national team shirt while others are contemplating wearing armbands to campaign against discrimination.