Manchester United legend Eric Cantona took the decision in January to boycott the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
In an interview with The Athletic’s Adam Crafton, the Frenchman explained the reasons behind his bold decision and why he thinks his former teammate David Beckham has made a huge mistake.
On what motivated him to take the decision, Cantona said, “It’s only about money and the way they treated the people who built the stadiums, it’s horrible.”
“Thousands of people died. And yet we will celebrate this World Cup. Personally, I will not watch it.”
The 56-year-old said that while he recognized football was a business, he was still yet to come to terms with the uneven opportunity distribution in the sector.
As an alternative to watching the World Cup, Cantona suggested that he would ride a motorbike in South America or spend time kicking a ball with poor kids in other parts of the world.
He admitted that his personal choice was his own and did not expect players to exercise the same course of action he did.
“If you have a player who says, ‘I will boycott the World Cup’, you say, ‘Bravo’. But you cannot condemn a 20-year-old player, who has a 10-year career, who lives in a world surrounded by people from football 24 hours per day.”
He instead laid the blame on sporting authorities including federations, politicians, ministers, and presidents who have the power to make a difference.
Cantona was quizzed on players acting as ambassadors and promoters of the world showpiece event, including Beckham who he shared the pitch with.
The former striker insisted that he would not do it if he was in the same shoes.
He said that these ex-players either did it because they were not aware of the situation or if they were aware, were making a big mistake.