Mark Drakeford faces outrage after all expense paid 'lavish' World Cup stay in Qatar

World Cup: Mark Drakeford has been criticised for staying in a five star hotel paid for by the Qatar government
World Cup: Mark Drakeford has been criticised for staying in a five star hotel paid for by the Qatar government
Mike Egerton
Georgina Cutler

By Georgina Cutler

Published: 04/01/2023

- 17:02

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 10:24

The Welsh Labour leader claimed the trip was to raise concerns at human rights abuses

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has received backlash for staying in a five-star hotel paid for by the Qatar government during his stay at the World Cup.

Along with the Welsh economy minister, Vaughan Gething, the duo stayed at the Ritz-Carlton.

The Liberal Democrats have claimed accepting the hospitality by the host nation may have undermined the Labour-led Welsh government’s commitment towards human rights.

The party has called on the party to donate the equivalent cost of the trip to charity.

First minister of Wales Mark Drakeford during the Labour Party Conference at the ACC Liverpool. Picture date: Monday September 26, 2022.
The Liberal Democrats have called on Labour to donate the equivalent cost of the trip to charity
Peter Byrne

At the time, Drakeford defended his decision by arguing that the people of Wales would have wanted him there and it gave him the opportunity to raise concerns on human rights.

The Welsh Government confirmed that the Qatar government had paid for hotels for Drakeford, Gething and several other officials on Wednesday.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: “The first minister and the economy minister visited Qatar to support the Welsh men’s football team as they took part in their first World Cup in 64 years.

“This was an opportunity to discuss trade and investment opportunities, meet with members of the Qatar government and the International Labour Organization to discuss worker rights, and to take part in cultural meetings to strengthen the links between the Qatar and Wales.

“The visit also was a chance to share our values on human rights, LGBTQ+ rights, workers’ rights and political and religious freedom.”

According to the Welsh government the hospitality package was offered to all representatives and traveling parties which and had no influence on the approach by Welsh Ministers to raise concerns with Qatari officials.

The Welsh Liberal Democrat leader, Jane Dodds, said: “By accepting this gift, Mark Drakeford has potentially undermined the Welsh government’s commitment towards human rights, LGBTQ+ rights and women’s rights.

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats will continue to call on Mark Drakeford and Welsh Labour to donate the equivalent cost of the trip to human rights charities who address the problems faced in Qatar.”

File photo dated 29-11-2022 of Wales players applaud the travelling supporters following the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar. Wales waited 64 years to play at a World Cup and ended up getting knocked out by England. Issue date: Saturday December 17, 2022.
Wales played at the World cup in Qatar
Nick Potts

Felix Jakens, Amnesty International UK’s head of priority campaigns and individuals at risk, added: “It would be a cause of real concern if politicians were accepting lavish hospitality – at the World Cup or anywhere else – from foreign governments and then feeling compromised when it came to raising human rights issues.

“We repeatedly called on politicians and others with influence who attended the World Cup in Qatar to raise human rights issues with their hosts and with Fifa, and we would hope that Mark Drakeford and Vaughan Gething can show that they sought to do this.”

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