These celebrities are not boycotting the World Cup in Qatar

Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup has been mired in controversy since it was first announced in 2010.

Concerns about the country’s dismal human rights record, especially her own exploitation of migrant workers and persecution of LGBTQ people, cast a shadow over the quadrennial soccer tournament, held for the first time in a Muslim-majority nation. Allegations of corruption and bribery surrounding Qatar’s bid to host, as well as the huge climate implications of hosting the event in a desert country, have also dogged the tournament.

Read more: The most contested World Cup to date begins with a defeat for hosts Qatar

In protest, several athletes, celebrities and fans around the world have pledged to do so boycott the world cupwhich will take place from November 20 to December 18. Those who have said they will not take part in the tournament include British music icons Dua Lipa and Rod Stewart.

But the problems surrounding this World Cup have not stopped other entertainment personalities from appearing in Qatar and some have already received criticism for their participation in the tournament.

Ahead of Sunday’s first kick-off at Qatar’s Al Bait Stadium, Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman made a surprise appearance to narrate the opening ceremony alongside FIFA World Cup ambassador and Qatari YouTube star Ghanim Al Muftah. “We gather here as one big tribe,” Freeman said.

Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman performs during the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Qatar, November 20, 2022 (Robert Michael—picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman performs during the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Qatar, November 20, 2022.

Robert Michael—picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

South Korean pop singer Jung Kook of K-pop boy band BTS also headlined the ceremony. He sang “Dreamers,” his contribution to the 2022 World Cup soundtrack, in front of an estimated 60,000 fans in the stadium and a fair share of the more than 5 billion people expected to watch the tournament on television or online. (BTS advocates for LGBTQ rights – most notably at the 2018 UN General Assembly)

Read more: BTS is TIME’s 2020 Artist of the Year

Former soccer star David Beckham, paid ambassador for Qatar 2022, watches the opening ceremony and first match from the stands. He is I come under fire to promote the country on the eve of the tournament.

Some took to Twitter to express their dismay at the involvement of these celebrities. One user questioned how can artists “perform for a nation that so blatantly violates human rights.” Others called the look “disappointing” and “wrong”.

More artists are slated to perform during Qatar’s month-long World Cup celebrations. IN FIFA Fan Festival at Al Bidda Park in the capital Doha, among those performing in the next few weeks are American music producers Diplo and Calvin Harris, Jamaican rapper Sean Paul and British electronic group Clean Bandit.

Other acts reported to be appearing in Qatar for state-sponsored concerts during the World Cup include American hip-hop group the The black-eyed peasColombian reggaeton star Jay Balvinand an English singer Robbie Williamsamong many others.

Williams defended her decision to play at Doha Golf Club on December 8, she told an Italian magazine Il Friday last week that it would be “hypocritical” of him not to go. “I don’t condone any human rights violations anywhere,” he said. “But that being said, if we don’t condone human rights abuses anywhere, then this will be the shortest tour the world has ever known: I won’t even be able to play in my own kitchen.”

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