The World Cup is just a day away, and the biggest sporting event in the world is already mired in controversy — much stemming from alleged human rights issues — causing some to boycott the soccer tourney … something Akonsays makes no sense.
TMZ Sports ran into the rap star, a big soccer fan, at LAX on Wednesday — just four days before the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Qatar — and we asked him about fans who say they won’t watch because of the controversy surrounding the host country.
“I don’t understand the purpose of the boycott, me personally, I think everywhere you go in the world there’s different cultures, different way of living, different life standards,” Akon explained.
The 5x Grammy nominee went on to say he believes many of his fellow Americans who are calling for a boycott don’t actually understand why they’re refusing to watch.
“I think when you look at a place like America, we have a tendency of taking certain things for granted, and we got a tendency of following suit of things we don’t understand. Instead of taking a trip there to understand the culture, understand what’s going on, you’re just going to follow suit cause everybody else says there’s humanitarian issues.”
FYI, Dua Lipa recently quelled speculation she’d perform in Qatar, saying she wouldn’t go to the country until they “fulfilled all the human rights pledges it made when it won the right to host the World Cup.” Rod Stewart also said he was offered a million dollars to perform, but he refused.
Of course, Qatar, a relatively small peninsular country with a population of under 3 million, has been accused of discriminating against people in the LGBTQ community. There are also reports of migrant workers dying while working under unsafe conditions in an effort to finish the WC facilities in the months before the tourney. Officials have also interfered with the press. These are just a few of the troubling allegations made against Qatar.
But, Akon sees it differently than the boycotters … it’s not that he’s saying he agrees with Qatar, he’s saying he recognizes that their culture is different.
“I think a lot of that is a cultural issue, a cultural difference. You know when you look at a place like Africa, Middle East, a lot of places, LGBTQ is not really a culture they came up under,” Akon says.
“It’s not a matter of dislike. It’s just a different culture. know what I’m saying? it’s just a matter of people better understanding each other’s culture, understanding the reasons and the whys.”
Akon believes we’d be a lot better off talking to the Qatari people and finding common ground, rather than ignoring them.
“How about going to explain your view from your position? Help them better understand. Know what I mean? Life is about communication. I think the moment people start jumping to conclusions and just take a position before understanding, things are always gonna be complicated.”
Boycott or not, the World Cup is almost here — the first match, Qatar vs. Ecuador, goes down on Sunday.