21.11.2022 18:49 h

Spain ruling party raps king over plans to visit Qatar

The junior partner in Spain's leftist coalition government on Monday criticised King Felipe VI's plans to visit Qatar later this week to attend the Spanish team's opening World Cup match.

Host of global football's premier event, wealthy Qatar has come under heavy criticism over its treatment of foreign workers and its rights restrictions on women and the LGBTQ community.

The presence of top government representatives at the tournament which kicked off on Sunday has been the subject of fierce debate in several European nations.

Gerardo Pisarello, a lawmaker with the hard-left Podemos party, told a news conference that its was "unfortunate" to hear the Royal Palace announce the king would travel to Qatar without "making any critical objections about what is happening there".

"We have certainly never had a football World Cup raising so many questions about human rights abuses since the 1978 World Cup in Argentina", which was organised under a military dictatorship, he added.

Podemos is the junior partner in Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's coalition cabinet, which has governed Spain since January 2020.

It has long been critical of the monarchy, which it would like to see abolished.

Spain's Royal Palace announced last week that the king would attend Spain's opening match against Costa Rica on Wednesday.

Denmark has been one of the most vocal opponents of Qatar's hosting of the tournament due to its human rights record.

Over the weekend, the Danish government announced that no ministers nor the Danish ambassador would attend the opening ceremony or any matches.