Al Qaeda, through its regional branch in the Arabian Peninsula, has called on Muslims around the world to turn their backs on the World Cup.
“We warn our Muslim brothers not to follow or attend this event,” its statement reads.
At the same time, it criticised Qatar for hosting the event, although it did not make any threats of attack or violence.
The Yemen-based branch of the militant al-Qaeda group censured the host country for “bringing immoral people, homosexuals, sowers of corruption and atheism to the Arabian Peninsula”, with the World Cup seen as a way to hide the “occupation of Muslim countries and their oppression”, as reported by the SITE intelligence group on the eve of the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador.
The World Cup organisers, meanwhile, have come out in response to criticism of Qatar’s infringement of LGBT rights and the country’s social restrictions, recalling that anyone, regardless of their sexual condition, race or religion, is welcome in the country.