Asserting that “we can’t just assume our culture or the way we live is better than someone else’s,” American rapper Akon has expressed support for Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup.
Akon, who has performed in Qatar before, was born in the US but spent many years in Senegal and is a huge football fan.
Cornered by celebrity news site TMZ at the Los Angeles airport recently, he responded to question about Qatar hosting the tournament by saying:
“I think it needs to stay where it’s at. Soccer is a universal sport. And yes it will be in areas where people share cultures that you may not agree. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong.
Everywhere you go in the world everyone had adapted a culture that they came up and was brought up on. And we just as people have to take the time to educate ourselves to those cultures to better understand it.”
Qatar will be the first country in the Middle East to host the World Cup.
But since it was awarded hosting rights nearly six years ago, the nation has been dogged by corruption allegations and concerns about the treatment of its blue-collar workforce.
There have been calls from some circles to move the World Cup to a different country, but FIFA officials have steadfastly said the 2022 games will remain here.
During his off-the-cuff interview, Akon didn’t address the controversies surrounding Qatar’s bid, instead focusing on the importance of football to all:
“I think if they move it (out of Qatar), it will put a big dent in FIFA in a negative way. I think that FIFA should keep the integrity of allowing the sport to be for all. It’s for all us to share.”
The remarks were appreciated by many in the Qatari community, including the country’s ambassador in the US:
— Mohamed Jaham (@Amb_AlKuwari) March 29, 2016