Former England footballer Gary Neville has been criticized for comparing Qatari workers’ treatment to UK government measures.
British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said after the former English footballer attacked the UK government, football fans do not want to hear Gary Neville discuss politics.
Speaking on ITV, where he is now a sports pundit, ahead of the World Cup final, he accused ministers of “horribly demonizing and defaming railway workers, ambulance workers and nurses”.
He said that poor working conditions should not be accepted in Qatar or any region.
He added that nurses in the UK – who are on strike – are being paid “a pittance”.
Simon Clarke, the Conservative MP, said it was “strange” to compare the two countries’ treatment of labour.
The former minister added: “It is absolutely ridiculous that Gary Neville should be given a free hand by ITV Sport to openly politicize a major sporting event.”
Lee Anderson, another Conservative MP, described Neville’s comments as “partisan propaganda by a millionaire”.
“It looks like ITV is on my to-do list now – talk football Gary and keep your nose out of politics. You don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
Responding to the criticism, Neville took to Twitter, describing the Tories as “the biggest bunch of charlatans that have ever come into power”.
A spokesperson for ATV said: “Gary Neville was expressing his personal views in the context of a discussion about the treatment of workers in Qatar on a live broadcast. His views are his own and we do not support them.”
Media regulator Ofcom confirmed it had received complaints about the matter but had not yet decided whether to investigate.
Qatar has come under scrutiny over its treatment of tens of thousands of migrant workers working to build stadiums and hotels ahead of the World Cup.
A 2021 report by Human Rights Watch said foreign workers faced “months of unpaid wages for long hours of hard work”.
According to the International Labor Organization, 50 foreign workers died, more than 50 people were injured, and 37,600 others sustained minor injuries.
Asked about Qatar’s treatment of workers, Neville said: “It is abhorrent and we must hate low wages and hate low wages, poor accommodation and poor working conditions.”
“This is something we can never accept in this region or in any region,” he added.
And he added, “It is worth noting that we have a current government in our country, which is horribly defaming railway workers, ambulance workers and nurses.”
In recent years, Neville has become an outspoken critic of the Conservative government, describing former Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a “disaster”.
He also joined the Labor Party and appeared at the party’s last annual conference, but ruled out becoming a politician.
During the World Cup, as well as providing editorial services for ITV, Neville also worked for Qatar’s beIN – a decision that drew criticism.
Defending the move on the BBC’s Have I Got News For You programme, he said: “You have a choice – my point is, you can highlight the issues and challenges in these countries and speak out about them, or you simply don’t say Nothing and don’t go to those countries.”
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