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Magazine causes outrage with racist World Cup cartoon

A new cartoon by French magazine Le Canard enchainé has been decried for its racist depiction of Qatari footballers. It’s a prime example of football at its worst. 

A caricature published in le Canard enchainé has caused outrage on social media for its depiction of Qatari footballers as terrorists.

The image, displayed in the French magazine’s October issue, depicts a group of bearded men in turbans, wearing Qatar football kits and wielding shotguns and explosives.

Many have called out the ‘blatant Islamophobia’ and ‘racism’ of the cartoon, an obvious attack on Qatar’s role as host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

‘Le Canard Enchainé published a despicable cartoon showing blatant racism and hatred of Islam’ on user wrote on Twitter. ‘They describe Qatar as an authoritarian emirate and its national team as terrorists.’

International tension has been building around this year’s World Cup tournament since Qatar was announced as the host.

Not only are Qatar’s gulf state temperatures too high for players to withstand during the summer – meaning the World Cup has been rescheduled to the latter part of the year for the first time in its history – but Qatar’s archaic stance on same-sex and human rights legislation has caused outrage amongst football fans and LGBTQ+ campaigners.

France is one of multiple countries that have refused to show the World Cup matches in fan zones, citing concerns over Qatar’s rights violations of migrant workers.

However some believe that the controversy surrounding Qatar’s hosting stint is in part down to Islamophobia. Qatar is the first Arab state to ever host the World Cup, and given European football’s long standing racism problem, it’s not surprising that many fans have been against Qatar’s involvement from the start.

Netizens have fired back at Le Canard’s cartoon, highlighting France’s hypocrisy as an Imperialist nation.

One tweet stated, ‘A racist nation, [France] has not yet apologies for its criminal acts in Algeria and the rest of Africa, and is still stealing the wealth of its people so that French can live in luxury at the expense of the looted peoples.’

Another user simply responded to the cartoon with ‘France is gonna France’.

The cartoon is undeniably racist, and an example of football’s intense tribal culture at its very worst. Hatred and aggression are often linked to extreme supporters, many of which lack the sense of community they constantly claim to be protecting.

Hamad Al-Kawai, a minister of state and the president of Qatar’s National Library, called on France to ‘show a little sportsmanship’.

‘Even caustic satire is welcome!!!’ Al-Kawai continued, defending the country’s rights to free speech, ‘but the Canard Enchainé decided to retort to lies, hatred and grudges to attack Qatar and denigrate it’.

Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin hamad Al Thani, addressed the international attacks on his country earlier this month.

‘It became clear to us that the campaign continues, expands and includes fabrication and double standards, until it reached a level of ferocity that made many question, unfortunately, the real reasons and motives behind this campaign,’ he said, adding that no other host country faced that level of criticism.’

His statement comes as Qatar claims to have improved its stance on labour reforms and treatment of migrant workers.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) agreed that Qatar ‘have improved the working and living conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers – estimated to form 85% of Qatar’s population – though additional efforts are needed to ensure all workers can benefit’.

Regardless of the country’s socio-political stance, Le Canard Enchainé’s cartoon proves that football’s greatest problem is not the destination of its tournaments, but the deep-seated racism that its aggressive competition spawns.

With baseless attacks on Islam and the Arabic world already dominating World Cup coverage, racist football fans are proving themselves no better than the supposedly antiquated nation they have targeted.