Andy Murray believes it is unfair to expect footballers to be the ones to constantly condemn the decision to host the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Football’s government body, FIFA, has been castigated over their decision to award the tournament to Qatar despite the Middle Eastern country’s poor human rights record and their strict anti-homosexuality laws.
With the opening match of the 2022 World Cup just days away, the outrage has grown stronger with many activists calling on footballers and teams to voice their unhappiness while brands and fans have been urged to boycott the showpiece event.
Tennis players have also in recent weeks come under fire for being part the so-called “sportswashing” used by Saudi Arabia and other countries, who are accused of using sport to hide its human rights atrocities.
Alexander Zverev and British No 1 Cameron Norrie have both been criticised for taking part in the state-sponsored Diriyah Tennis Cup in Saudi Arabia in December along with Daniil Medvedev, Stan Wawrinka, Andrey Rublev and Dominic Thiem.
Three-time Grand Slam winner Murray has competed in Qatar and Doha during ATP-sanctioned tournaments, but he has in the past turned down opportunities to play in exhibition events in countries with poor human rights records with his agent Matt Gentry revealing earlier this year that big money is on offer to play in Saudi Arabia.
“He’s turned down stuff in Saudi; I don’t think he will play there just because of what’s gone on,” Gentry said.
He added: “For turning up and playing a match, if you are a former No 1 player in the world, in the Middle East you could potentially earn $1 million to $2 million.”
Asked what advice he would give to footballers heading to Qatar for the World Cup, former world No 1 Murray told Sky News: “That is a difficult question. I have also competed and played tournaments in Qatar and Doha that are on our Tour.
“I don’t think it is necessarily the athletes’ responsibility where their events are.
“I am sure for a lot of the players who are going there, they have worked their whole lives to be involved in a World Cup. I think those questions need to be asked to FIFA and the people who are organising these major events whether it is the right thing to do or not.
“I hope it goes well but I know there have been a lot of question about whether it is the right place to hold a major event like that.”
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