Gary Neville has changed his stance on Qatar hosting the FIFA World Cup as he stated on-air during the tournament’s opening ceremony on Sunday afternoon that the competition should be held in the Middle East.
Neville has previously been very vocal and publicly denounced the World Cup being held in Qatar, earlier stating he was going to the tournament to ‘highlight issues’.
The 47-year-old is part of Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports’ commentary team in the Middle East and while on-air during the tournament’s glamorous opening ceremony, he celebrated the World Cup getting underway in the controversial nation.
Gary Neville has stated his belief that the FIFA World Cup should be hosted in the Middle East
While commentating in Qatar, Neville backed the country’s hosting of the global football event
Neville was speaking on-air at the opening ceremony of the World Cup in the Al Bayt Stadium
Neville said on Sunday: ‘The workers who built these stadiums do need thanking,’ Neville said. ‘But football is here, it’s the greatest sports tournament in the world.
‘There should be a World Cup in an Arab country, there should be a World Cup in a Muslim country, there should be a World Cup in the Middle East – that is a fact!’
Neville’s latest statement contradicts his declaration of condemnation for Qatar putting on football’s biggest event where he insisted he would ‘challenge issues’ while in the country.
The issues surrounding unsafe working conditions for migrant workers in Qatar has been a vocal talking point heading into the World Cup
Host nation Qatar (red) played Ecuador (yellow) in Sunday’s World Cup opener
Speaking on his hosting debut of the BBC‘s Have I Got News For You at the start of November, Neville said: ‘You’ve got a choice, haven’t you?
‘My view always has been that you either highlight the issues and challenges in these countries and speak about them, or you basically don’t say anything and stay back home and don’t go. And I think we should challenge them.’
The issues raised around the unsafe working conditions for migrant workers that died while helping to construct venues including stadiums in Qatar has been a vocal talking point.
Neville previously criticised Qatar being awarded the FIFA World Cup in a BBC comedy show
In contrast to Neville, Gary Lineker opened the BBC’s opening coverage of Qatar’s match against Ecuador by labelling the tournament ‘the most controversial World Cup in history’.
Neville, also part of ITV’s World Cup coverage in Qatar, was in the England dugout for England’s 2014 World Cup campaign in Brazil, acting as number two to then-manager Roy Hodgson.
The former Manchester United and England defensive stalwart will be hoping to keep his distance from Portugal and United star Cristiano Ronaldo after the pair’s falling out.
Police in Qatar attempt to instruct supporters heading to the opening match of the World Cup
Ronaldo admitted during his bombshell interview with Piers Morgan before the World Cup got underway in Qatar that he felt ‘betrayed’ by his ex-teammate Neville who had criticised the 37-year-old’s antics at Old Trafford this season.
Neville responded by calling on the Premier League giants to sack Ronaldo with the club beginning proceedings against their wantaway striker.