The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be a controversial one, but FIFA wants the players to focus only on the games. In a letter obtained by Sky News, FIFA president Gianni Infantino told the 32 teams participating in the World Cup not to bring attention to the politics of the event.
In the letter, Infantino wrote he understood that there are complex political issues unfolding across the globe. However, he told players to avoid mixing those with the game of soccer on a regular basis.
"We know football does not live in a vacuum and we are equally aware that there are many challenges and difficulties of a political nature all around the world," Infantino wrote. "But please do not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists."
Infantino went on to write that FIFA is not in the business of giving "moral lessons to the rest of the world." He also reiterated the idea that soccer, not politics or social issues, should be the focus in Qatar later this month.
"At FIFA, we try to respect all opinions and beliefs, without handing out moral lessons to the rest of the world," Infantino wrote. "One of the great strengths of the world is indeed its very diversity, and if inclusion means anything, it means having respect for that diversity. No one people or culture or nation is 'better' than any other.
"This principle is the very foundation stone of mutual respect and non-discrimination. And this is also one of the core values of football. So, please let's all remember that and let football take centre stage."
This World Cup has stirred up controversy since Qatar initially won the bid in 2010. Since then, the event has come under fire due to human rights concerns brought on by the treatment of the migrant workers who helped build the infrastructure for the event.
In a recent Twitter post, the governing body of soccer in the Netherlands expressed support for the migrant workers.
"After the World Cup, the KNVB wants to be proud of two things: of the performance of the Dutch national team on the field and of the lasting improvements in the situation of the labor migrants in Qatar," the post read.
Additionally, Qatar has faced criticism for its laws prohibiting same-sex relationships. Eight European countries have requested that their players be allowed to wear armbands featuring the phrase "One Love" to protest Qatar's stance on LGBTQ+ rights.
The 2022 World Cup will begin on Sunday, Nov. 20, and it will be interesting to see how it is received by the participating teams and fans around the world.