Finnish footballer boycotts match in Qatar over human rights

Riku Riski, in acton for Finland against Greece, has refused to play in Qatar over human rights concerns. (Supplied)
Updated 08 January 2019
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Finnish footballer boycotts match in Qatar over human rights

  • Riku Riski: The reasons for my decision were ethics and values, which I want to follow and hold on to
  • Qatar, which will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, has come under intense criticism for human rights violations

HELSINKI: Finnish forward Riku Riski will miss Tuesday’s friendly against Sweden in Qatar after pulling out of the trip in protest at the Gulf state’s record on human rights.
The 29-year-old, who has represented his country more than 20 times, told Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat he discussed his decision not to join the squad in Qatar with Finland’s head coach Markku Kanerva.
“The reasons for my decision were ethics and values, which I want to follow and hold on to. I felt that was important,” Riski told the paper.
Qatar, which will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, has come under intense criticism for human rights violations and abusive labor conditions for the many migrant workers who are building infrastructure ahead of the tournament.
In November the pressure group Amnesty International said migrant workers in the tiny Gulf country were still being exploited or going unpaid despite reforms promised by Qatari authorities.
In a statement released by the Finnish Football Association, Kanerva said Riski was still in the running for a spot in the squad for the tour which will include a second friendly against Estonia on Friday.
“This camp is an extremely important try-out ahead of the coming tournaments and Riku deserved his place on it,” Kanerva said in his statement.
“Neither I nor the team manager Lennart Wangel have taken a position on Riku’s reasons (for his decision) — they were strong enough for him and therefore they must be respected,” he added.
Riski is currently a striker with the Finnish club HJK Helsinki. He has previously played for clubs in Poland, Sweden and Scotland.
Finland, ranked 58th in the world, have never qualified for a World Cup finals.


Platini released from custody after police questioning

Updated 25 min 32 sec ago
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Platini released from custody after police questioning

  • French authorities haven’t announced any charges against Platini
  • The authorities also questioned a sport adviser from the previous French president’s administration

PARIS: Former UEFA president Michel Platini was released from custody in the early hours of Wednesday after being questioned as part of a corruption investigation into the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
His communication team said that Platini’s detention ended at 12:30 a.m. local time.
Platini had denied any wrongdoing and French authorities did not announce any charges against the former France and Juventus player.
“It was long, but given the number of questions it could not be different,” Platini said after his release. “They asked me questions about the 2016 Euro, the World Cup in Russia, the World Cup in Qatar, the Paris Saint-Germain, FIFA.”
Also questioned Tuesday were Sophie Dion, a sports adviser in former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s administration, and Claude Gueant, the former secretary general of the Elysee presidential palace under Sarkozy.
Ahead of the FIFA vote, Sarkozy hosted a meeting in November 2010 that brought Platini together with Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, then the crown prince of Qatar and now its ruling emir. Al-Thani also owns the French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain, and Sarkozy frequently attends its games.
Qatar beat the long-favored United States 14 to 8 when FIFA selected the host country for the 2022 World Cup
As head of European soccer’s governing body UEFA, Platini was the continent’s top representative on the FIFA committee that picked Qatar.
French prosecutors are known to be investigating an array of winning bids for major sports events, including the 2018 World Cup, awarded to Russia, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and track and field world championships.

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READ MORE: TIMELINE: The trail of corruption allegations surrounding the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar

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