Soccer-France's Macron says Qatar must move towards "tangible changes"

FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France September 19, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer//File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday urged Qatar to continue in the direction of "tangible changes" that he said are signposted by Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup.

"This football World Cup, the first organised in an Arab country, is a sign of tangible changes underway. Qatar is headed in this direction. It must continue, and it can count on our support," Macron said on Twitter during the France-Denmark game.

France became the first team to book a spot in the World Cup knockout stage on Saturday when it defeated Denmark 2-1 in a tense encounter.

Earlier this month, Macron had said sports should not be politicised, brushing off suggestions that he should boycott the World Cup in Qatar.

As the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup, the small nation has come under intense pressure for its treatment of foreign workers and restrictive social laws.

The government of Qatar has said its labour system was a work in progress, but has denied many of the accusations levelled against it.

(This story has been refiled to reformat headline.)

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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