Cantona dismissed the event as “not a real World Cup”, citing the deaths of “thousands of people” during construction of new stadia and infrastructure and accusing Fifa of only being interested in money.
The competition was awarded to the Middle Eastern country in 2010 in a bidding process later investigated by Swiss prosecutors for fraud and money laundering.
The tournament, which begins on 21 November later this year, will be the first men’s World Cup held outside of May, June, or July due to intense summer heat in the region.
Former Manchester United and Leeds forward Cantona believes hosting the tournament in Qatar betrays the inherent meritocratic elements of football.
“Personally, I will not watch it,” the 55-year-old Frenchman told the Daily Mail. “I understand football is a business. But I thought it was the only place where everybody could have a chance.
“And I still think that young players can grow up in a very poor area - most players come from poor areas. And they become footballers and have a chance to save themselves and save their family which is great. And if you are good, you are good. It’s a meritocracy - if you’re better than the next guy, you will play and it’s fair.
“So it’s why, maybe, if meritocracy and potential is the essence of football, it’s even more surprising that we can organize a World Cup in Qatar, and people actually voted for that.”
A report from humanitarian organisation Amnesty International released in November 2021 found that labour reforms in the country had stalled, with migrant workers trapped and exploited, leaving “thousands at risk”.
Amnesty UK then urged the Football Association, and England’s players and staff, to speak out about human rights abuses ahead of the World Cup.
Denmark will wear training kits containing messages in support of human rights during the tournament.
And Cantona believes the World Cup will do little for the the country, and indicated it was only awarded to them solely for financial reasons.
“It’s only about money and the way they treated the people who built the stadiums, it’s horrible,” he added. “And thousands of people died. And yet we will celebrate this World Cup.”
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