Robbie Williams defends performing in Qatar for the World Cup

"It would be hypocritical for me not to go"

Robbie Williams has responded to criticism for being booked to perform at the Qatar World Cup.

In an exclusive interview with il Venerdithe singer defended his choice to perform at Doha Golf Club on December 8. “Anybody leaving messages saying ‘no to Qatar’ are doing so on Chinese technology,” he told the Italian magazine, referencing China’s similarly poor record on human rights.

He continued: “You get this microscope that goes ‘OK, these are the baddies, and we need to rally against them’… I think that the hypocrisy there is that if we take that case in this place, we need to apply that unilaterally to the world. Then if we apply that unilaterally to the world, nobody can go anywhere”.

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The former Take That member argued it would be “hypocritical” for him not to go to Qatar, “because of the places that I do go to.”

“I also think that change will take a long time,” he said. “What we’re saying is: ‘You behave like us, or we will annex you from society. Behave like us, because we’ve got it right’.”

“I don’t condone any abuses of human rights anywhere,” Williams continued. “But, that being said, if we’re not condoning human rights abuses anywhere, then it would be the shortest tour the world has ever known: I wouldn’t even be able to perform in my own kitchen”.

Robbie Williams performing live on-stage
Robbie Williams performs live. CREDIT: Press

Richard Madeley spoke out against Williams and other celebrities, such as David Beckham, who are involved with the controversial tournament. FIFA has been heavily criticised for hosting the World Cup in Qatar on the basis of its human rights abuses. Homosexuality is still illegal in the country, while 6,500 workers are reported to have died in the construction of the Khalifa Stadium.

“It just seems to me Robbie going to Qatar, for money, Black Eyed Peas going to Qatar, for money, and David Beckham endorsing Qatar, for money, they’re all endorsing the regime,” Madeley said on Good Morning Britain last month [via StokeonTrentLive].

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Amnesty International’s Peter Frankental had also called upon Williams to publicly address Qatar’s poor human rights record. “Major stars like Robbie Williams have significant influence and we’d like to see him using this concert to publicly address the topic of Qatar’s poor human rights record, especially widespread labour abuses and the ­criminalisation of LGBTI people,” he said [via The Mirror].

Other artists have been more critical of the tournament. Rod Stewart turned down £1million to perform at the World Cup, saying “it’s not right”, while Dua Lipa denied rumours that she was to be involved, calling on Qatar to fulfil the human rights pledges it made when it won the right to host the tournament.

The Qatar World Cup kicks off on Sunday (November 20).

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