The issue of who to send to the world cup divided government parties for many weeks. There is the human rights situation, but Qatar is also seen as an alternative energy supplier now that Russia has become problematic. It’s above all the Francophone greens that led opposition to a high-level Belgian delegation.
It’s now been decided that foreign minister Lahbib will attend the first matches involving the Red Devils, the Belgian national squad. Ms Lahbib is heading for Qatar with a clear message. She intends to impress on the Qataris a need for improved working conditions as well as women’s and LGBT+ rights.
Whether the prime minister or King Filip will eventually travel to the emirate, when Belgium progresses, is unclear. Foreign minister Lahbib planned to cheer on the Red Devils in the semis, but the government hasn’t yet taken a definitive decision on who will represent the country when Belgium shines in football glory. The matter will be revisited when we reach this stage. Few are setting credence by a computer model from Leuven University that suggest Belgium only possesses a 21% chance of getting this far!