Calls for Mark Drakeford to rethink World Cup trip after Qatar ambassador's homosexuality comments

Credit: PA

Plaid Cymru's Adam Price has criticised Mark Drakeford's decision to travel to the Qatar World Cup following 'hateful' comments made by a World Cup ambassador.

Khalid Salman, who is a Qatar FIFA World Cup ambassador, told a German broadcaster: "They have to accept our rules here," describing homosexuality as “damage in the mind”.

Adam Price said in First Minister's Questions yesterday (November 8), that Salman's comments outlined the issues LGBTQ+ people would face at the tournament. 

He said: "You referred to the Rainbow Wall; of course, they've decided that they cannot go to this World Cup.

"I've seen discussion that the Football Association of Wales is having with the Qatar Government about creating safe houses for LGBTQ+ people, but the fact that there even has to be that discussion, and that there can be no guarantee ultimately that LGBTQ+ people will not be subject to discrimination and, indeed, even imprisonment, I think shows the gravity of the situation that we're facing."

Mr Price continued: "So, in the light of these most recent comments, will the First Minister potentially be reconsidering his intention to attend? I notice that the Qatar Foreign Minister has also said that the criticisms of Qatar in relation to human rights and in relation to migrant workers are arrogant and hypocritical. Does the Welsh Government share that view?"

The First Minister wasn't available to attend FMQs in person after testing positive for Covid-19.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We condemn these shameful comments and stand in solidarity with LGBTQ+ communities everywhere.

“The First Minister and Cabinet have raised human and workers’ rights issues directly with the Qatari Ambassador to the UK and are engaging with LGBTQ+ fans and trades unions in Wales and across the world to help ensure fan safety.

“We stand with those striving for social justice and will go on promoting an open, progressive Wales that is committed to the values of inclusivity and equality.”

The Welsh Liberal Democrats also criticised the decision for the First Minister to go to Qatar after the Welsh Government cited the impact of air travel as a reason not to attend COP27.

Leader Jane Dodds MS said: "Why does the Welsh Government consider going to COP27 an inappropriate use of air miles on the one hand, yet they are ploughing ahead on an inappropriate trip to Qatar on the other hand?

"The planned visit to Qatar by three Labour Ministers is totally unnecessary and inappropriate. Welsh Labour must cancel their trip immediately and take a strong stance on human rights rather than seeking investment at any cost."

Despite UK Labour Leader Kier Starmer calling for Labour to boycott the tournament, Welsh Labour are sending a delegation to the Qatar World Cup including First Minster Mark Drakeford, Minister for the Economy Vaughn Gething and Culture and Sport Minister Dawn Bowden.