Soccer-Dutch coach van Gaal criticises hosting World Cup in Qatar

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal said it was ridiculous that this year’s World Cup was being played in Qatar, accusing FIFA of taking the tournament to the Middle East emirate for money and commercial reasons.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - World Cup - UEFA Qualifiers - Group G - Netherlands v Gibraltar - Feyenoord Stadium, Rotterdam, Netherlands - October 11, 2021 Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw/File Photo

Van Gaal said the world soccer governing body’s reasons for awarding the finals to Qatar, where his side will be competing at the Nov. 21-Dec. 18 finals, were spurious.

“We will be playing in a country where FIFA say we are going to help develop football. That is bullshit,” he told a news conference on Monday as his side began preparations for friendlies against Denmark and Germany in the next eight days.

The friendlies form part of the Dutch preparations for the finals after they qualified last November.

“The tournament in Qatar is about money and commercial interest. That is what matters to FIFA.”

Van Gaal, 70, said he is part of a commission within the Dutch FA (KNVB) which meets every month to evaluate the ongoing situation in Qatar with regards to human rights.

The KNVB has been among the few football associations to criticise human rights and working conditions in Qatar.

“The KNVB has never been in favour of holding the World Cup in Qatar and of course certainly doesn’t approve of the way in which migrant workers are treated there,” it said in a statement last year after a visit to the country.

Qatar has faced international scrutiny over the treatment of workers ever since it won the rights in 2010 to host the first World Cup in the Middle East.

Last year Dutch players, along with those of Germany and Norway, wore shirts before World Cup qualifiers voicing concerns over human rights in Qatar.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper said it had calculated that there had been at least 6,500 migrant worker deaths in Qatar since the country won the hosting rights.

Qatar has said the reported deaths were within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population of the workers concerned, and that the mortality rate had consistently declined since 2010 due to health and safety reforms.

Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ken Ferris