The FIFA World Cup 2022 being held in Qatar has become less about football and more about the unending controversies surrounding it. In the latest, it is fugitive Indian Islamic preacher Zakir Naik's presence at the World Cup.
Zakir Naik is an Islamic televangelist who fled India after being charged with terror financing and money laundering. He's currently living in Malaysia, but is banned from giving speeches in the country. India, UK, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Canada have also banned him from giving speeches. His name has cropped up in several terrorist attacks from Bangladesh to Sri Lanka.
What now: An old video of Zakir Naik has now gone viral, which shows him calling professional football 'haraam' or a sin. Naik in the video says that while playing football for leisure and at small levels is okay, playing football at higher levels, especially global levels, is a sin in Islam.
Ironically, Naik has been invited by Qatar to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the biggest football event in the world. He has accepted the invitation and is reportedly in Doha to give speeches throughout the tournament.
Who is Zakir Naik? It's not just Naik's conflicting comments on football that are being highlighted. In India, Naik has been accused of hate speech and encouraging Muslim youth to commit terrorist acts.