The Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal said on Wednesday supporters boycotting the World Cup in Qatar were “right to do that” but hoped his team would do enough to persuade fans at home to watch them on television.
“I think they are right because they believe in that, so no problem with that,” Van Gaal said before the Dutch side trained for the first time since arriving in Qatar the previous day.
“I hope that we play so fantastic that at the end of the tournament when we play the final they shall look on television and see how good we are.”
Some fans, particularly in Europe, have pledged to boycott this year’s World Cup, which starts on Sunday, as Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers, women and the LGBTQ community has come under the spotlight.
The Dutch FA recently criticised FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s call to focus on football during the tournament and on Thursday the Netherlands squad is due to meet with migrant workers in the Qatari capital.
Veteran Dutch coach Van Gaal hit out at world football’s governing body earlier this year, calling its decision to award Qatar the World Cup “ridiculous”.
“I think you have to play in football countries. (They have) more experience with everything,” he said on Wednesday.
However, he added: “We mustn’t forget that there is a completely different culture here in Qatar. We could also look at our own culture and see if things are really that great at home.
“But also (you have) to assimilate that country in another way, that they are a driver, and this is also a small country,” added Van Gaal, who has experience visiting Qatar for training camps when coaching Bayern Munich more than a decade ago.
“Now my family and my friends are having a lot of difficulty to find a place so that is also a remark, but the organisation, and the pitches and everything, the facilities. These are very good.”
Van Gaal, 71, who will step down after the World Cup, is preparing his side to face Senegal in its opening match in Doha on Monday.
It will also face hosts Qatar and Ecuador in Group A.