Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso has decided not to attend his nation’s high-profile match against Qatar kicking off the World Cup, citing domestic unrest.
Qatar and Ecuador, both rank outsiders, play each other in Group A on Nov. 20 after the opening ceremony at the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium.
“I have thanked the Emir of Qatar for the invitation to witness the opening match between our teams,” Lasso tweeted.
“However, I have decided not to go. Attending the national security situation is my priority.”
Lasso’s presidency has been clouded by high levels of violence, which he attributes to his campaign against drug traffickers, and deadly prison riots.
Instead of Lasso, his vice president Alfredo Borrero will attend the match in Qatar to represent Ecuador, according to a presidency statement.
Ecuador was cleared to play in Qatar earlier this week after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that a player whom Chile claimed was ineligible for the qualifiers was deemed an Ecuadorean national.
Ecuador did, however, get a three-point deduction for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers and a fine of 100,000 Swiss francs ($101,600) for using a document with false information.