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Drakeford one of just four European leaders of nations represented at World Cup to to attend Qatar

21 Dec 2022 4 minute read
Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford in front of the giant bucket hat on the Corniche in Doha. Photo Bronwen Weatherby PA Images

Luke James

Mark Drakeford was among a minority of leaders of European countries represented at the World Cup who chose to travel to Qatar, research by Nation.Cymru has found.

Wales was one of 13 European countries to qualify for the World Cup but the First Minister was one of just four heads of government of those countries to go to Qatar.

French President Emmanuel Macron, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa were the other leaders that travelled despite pressure to boycott the tournament over the host country’s human rights record.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban also attended the opening ceremony despite his country not having qualified.

All but one of the other nine qualifying countries sent delegations led by other government ministers.

Boycotted

England, Belgium and Serbia were all represented by their foreign ministers, while Spain, the Netherlands and Poland were represented by their sports ministers.

Germany sent its interior minister and Switzerland its finance minister.

Only the Danish government boycotted the tournament entirely, with neither ministers nor the country’s ambassador to Qatar attending the opening ceremony or the country’s matches.

In 2018, the UK and Icelandic governments were among those to boycott the World Cup in Russia in the wake of the poisoning of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.

Source: Publicly available records and enquiries with national governments by Nation.Cymru

‘Values’

The First Minister visited Qatar for four days around Wales’s opening match against the USA, during which he met with the country’s deputy prime minister to discuss “mutual interest around sustainable development and our future generations”, according to a written statement.

It also says Drakeford held a “discussion on values” with Qatar’s ambassador to the UK and promoted “Wales and its values” at a UK Government reception for around 200 Qatari business leaders.

Speaking in the Senedd after returning from the trip, the First Minister said: “The Welsh Government’s presence at Qatar allowed us to amplify knowledge of Wales across the world and to speak up for the values that matter to us.

“Cultural and economic benefits will be among the products of that engagement.”

The Welsh Government didn’t want to comment further when contacted for a statement.

Economy minister Vaughan Gething also travelled to Qatar as part of the Welsh Government delegation that cost £13,000, according to a freedom of information request made by the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

Mark Drakeford in Qatar. Picture by QIIB Sheikh Dr. Khalid Thani Al-Thani (left). Picture a press handout by QIIB

‘Progressive’

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds MS said our findings were further proof the First Minister was wrong to travel to Qatar.

“As myself and my party have stated multiple times it was completely inappropriate for Mark Drakeford to attend the World Cup in Qatar,” said Dodds. “The fact he was just one of four European leaders to do so only confirms this.

“Despite his argument for going, we saw minimal public contribution from him on the human rights debate.

“The Welsh Government should have followed the lead of Denmark and boycotted the event instead of prioritising tainted investment deals over human rights. This does not represent the progressive Wales I or the Welsh Liberal Democrats want to see on the world stage.

“I will continue to call on Mark Drakeford and Welsh Labour to donate (from their own Party funds) the equivalent of the £13,000 in taxpayers’ money they spent on the trip to human rights charities that deal with the issues of migrant slave labour, women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights.”


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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
5 months ago

Welsh Labour and Mark Drakeford said they wanted to make Cymru the most welcoming place for LGBTQ people…and then he goes off to hang out in a country that persecutes, torments, imprisons, tortures and kills LGBTQ people, but enough about that time he went to England, he also went to Qatar where they are just more open about it. …still, shame on him. Fancy putting football before citizens of your own country. Tbh, to be brutally frank, I can’t be friends with anyone who participated or watched or got involved in any way with the recent World Cup, for me… Read more »

Riki
Riki
5 months ago

No! He was 100% correct in going. You change peoples minds through dialogue, not ignorance! It also helped to show that Wales is NOT England, or The UK, atleast to Qatar and the other two nations in our Group.

Andrew Redman
Andrew Redman
5 months ago
Reply to  Riki

Trade is important but speaking out publicly about Human Rights would have had a greater affect on The FM’s international status?

Riki
Riki
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Redman

If he had, considering our position in the fraudulent union that is the Uk…the world would have laughed their collective heads at him. After all, he has no power outside of Wales. Which is the trick the English play on The Welsh and Scot’s and why they let us have our own Parliament but still do the talking for us.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Redman

The EU blocking Qataris from entering EU buildings did have it’s effect:
no Qatari LNG for Europe! West Asia is going East, Europe elsewhere.

Last edited 5 months ago by I.Humphrys
Wncomunco
5 months ago
Reply to  Riki

When he got there either he said nothing or no news channels wanted to report what he said because his views were not considered important.

Wncomunco
5 months ago
Reply to  Riki

Why don’t his clothes fit?

hdavies15
hdavies15
5 months ago

Hang on…. unless I’m misjudging something there Drakeford was the only person there from a country that is yet to secure its independence. He is a Unionist, a submissive obedient servant to the infestation that runs the UK. He had no right to be there and if he had any sense or morality he would have stayed away. But the urge to do a spot of schmoozing at one of the biggest junkets of the year was overpowering. Gets creepier with each passing week.

Llyn
Llyn
5 months ago

Some of the reporting of Mark Drakeford’s visit to Qatar has been rather hysterical and lacking balance. Numerous UK Government ministers visited Qatar during the WC. This article from Politico also points out that dozens of MPs have visited Qatar in the recent months including Alun Cairns and Chris Bryant – https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-mps-defend-accepting-260000-in-qatari-gifts-before-world-cup/

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
5 months ago

Has the Senedd any planned trips to Rwanda-on-Sea, only it sounds like Cruella has a cunning plan to invite as many refugees as she can for a floating magical mystery holiday, only there could be berths available for daring ministers…

Lib Dem YesCymru infiltrator
Lib Dem YesCymru infiltrator
5 months ago

Qatar. Drakeford was ill-judged to go. As for Drakeford’s party, it is not that Welsh Devolution has failed, it’s that until the Welsh people vote Labour out for the 1st time since 1922, Welsh Devolution has not begun.

George Thomas
George Thomas
5 months ago

Our concerns regarding Qatar have been largely based on, and in no particular order, the treatment of migrant workers, rights of LGBTQ+ community, rights of women and attitude to climate change crisis.

If we had boycotted, what effect would we have had on those areas?
On basis of not boycotting, what effect have we had on those areas?

Lib Dems are trying to drum up anger where it may or may not be reasonable. Ask Drakeford for details of where he raised concerns and with who and measure improvements, or not, over next 5-10 years.

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