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Wales Online
Wales Online
Hannah Hiles & Steven Smith

Fans' anger as Robbie Williams set to perform in Qatar during World Cup

Fans of singer Robbie Williams have reacted with anger after it was reported that he will perform at a concert in Qatar during the football World Cup this winter. The Take That star was announced as one of several big names during a press conference this week.

The tournament has come in for criticism due to Qatar's human rights record and fans of the singer have said that he shouldn't be involved. It was announced by Qatar Airways - an official World Cup partner - this week that the Stoke-on-Trent-born singer would be playing at the Qatar Live series of concerts.

The airline said that he would perform at Doha Golf Club on Thursday, December 8, during the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It was also reported that Maroon 5 and Post Malone would be playing at the same venue in the days after.

The decision by FIFA to hold the World Cup in Qatar has been dogged with controversy, owing to Qatar's human rights record, particularly in relation to migrant workers and the LGBTQ+ community, reports StokeonTrentLive. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, with 'offenders' facing fines and up to seven years in prison.

StokeonTrentLive has been in contact with Williams' agents since Wednesday, but they have so far failed to respond to requests for comment. Fans, however, have been quick to react to the reports that Williams - who played at the opening ceremony of the 2018 World Cup in Russia - would be playing in the Gulf state.

On the Robbie Williams Fanfest page, Phill Dann wrote: "How do fans make an official protest? For him to be pressured by his fans to be persuaded to choose not to appear would be a massive statement on behalf of all those human beings who are affected by both the construction regime there and also their attitudes in respect of other things.

"I'm sorry but the Qatar World Cup is wrong on many levels and I am disappointed that Robbie feels it is acceptable to so blatantly support it. I am not wishing to be anti Robbie, and we are all naiive at times, but I suggest it is a huge own-goal for him."

Nic Schwarten added: "His opinion seems to be clear, otherwise he wouldn't appear there. It's really incomprehensible that he appears there."

Kim Johansson said: "I hope that's not true," while Kad Dy added: "That's sad, really sad" and Niamh Byrne said: "I love him but this is disappointing."

Williams is not the first high-profile star to face criticism after being linked to the Qatar World Cup. At the Attitude Awards last week, Australian footballer Josh Cavello called on ex-England star David Beckham - who has an ambassadorial role with the World Cup - to speak out against Qatar for its human rights record.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International has been critical of the controversial tournament and recently urged FIFA to compensate World Cup migrant workers. Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK’s economic affairs director, said they would like to see Robbie Williams use his '"significant influence" to "address the topic of Qatar's poor human rights record".

He told StokeOnTrentLive: "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.

"The World Cup will still be ongoing when Robbie takes the stage at Qatar Live in December, meaning the exploitation of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in the lead-up to the tournament will be very much in people's minds.

"A few well-chosen words from Robbie Williams about the need for Qatar to truly deliver on the unfinished business of labour reforms and the pressing need for it to abolish anti-LGBTI laws would be hugely welcome."

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