Players wear shirts to voice human rights concerns in Qatar ahead of the World Cup

Netherlands joins Germany and Norway in voicing human rights concerns against Qatar © Getty Images

The Netherlands, Germany and Norway protested against human rights abuses in host country Qatar ahead of FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Players from the three European countries all wore shirts to voice their concern over the treatment of migrant workers due to increased pressure on Qatari authorities.

The Dutch team lined up before yesterday’s meeting with Latvia with “Change in Football Support” emblazoned at their peak.

“Human rights, on and off the pitch” are emblazoned on the shirts worn by the Norwegian players ahead of their final matches against Gibraltar and Turkey.

Germany also pledged their support with 11 players wearing black tops with white letters joining together to spell “HUMAN RIGHTS” before taking on Iceland.

More protests are expected to follow with Denmark poised to strike a stance against Moldova today while England’s players are also considering adding their votes as the campaign gathers momentum.

Amnesty International recently wrote to FIFA, asking them to take “immediate and concrete action” and “use their full influence” to ensure Qatari authorities comply with the pre-World Cup workforce reform program.

The human rights organization claims its research shows that thousands of migrant workers are still being exploited and abused because World Cup organizers aim to build seven new stadiums for the tournament.

Netherlands defender Matthijs de Ligt stressed the importance of players taking a united approach to help protect workers.

“We know that the workers building the stadium for the 2022 World Cup are working under very difficult conditions,” said de Ligt in his report by AFP.

The German players line up to spell the words
German players line up to spell the words “HUMAN RIGHTS” before their encounter with Iceland © Getty Images

“We can’t remain indifferent and do nothing.

“In the coming weeks, we will also work together [players] unions from other countries to discuss collective action. “

Speak to the Dutch news agency ANP, De Ligt team-mate, Memphis Depay added: “As footballers, our voices need to be heard.

“It will be more effective through collective action that brings countries together than by acting individually.”

Activists in Norway and Denmark are calling for their national teams to withdraw from the World Cup, if they qualify, because of human rights concerns.

The Royal Netherlands Football Association is reportedly not planning to boycott the tournament, while the German Football Association (DFB) opposes the withdrawal.

“Qatar has embarked on some reforms, and it has seen progress being made – although there is still a way to go – which could potentially be undone by the boycott,” said DFB President Fritz Keller.

“I hope to push for concrete changes, and implement them before giving the World Cup to a country like Qatar, where there are some things that still need to change.

Norwegian players raise their hands to represent the human rights logo © Getty Images
Norwegian players raise their hands to represent the human rights logo © Getty Images

“Instead, Qatar was awarded the World Cup as a kind of leap of faith, in the hope it will help bring about improvement.”

Previous political statements on the pitch resulted in the player receiving a fine, but FIFA said no action would be taken in response to Norway’s protests against Gibraltar last week.

“FIFA believes in free speech, and in the power of football as a force for good,” read a statement from FIFA.

“No disciplinary process regarding this matter will be opened by FIFA.”

According to an investigation by Security reported last month, 6,500 workers have died in Qatar over the past 11 years.

Amnesty International believes FIFA should carry out independent and regular monitoring of World Cup projects and venues, while carrying out due diligence to identify and prevent human rights violations associated with the tournament.

Responding to Amnesty International’s letter, the Government of Qatar informed AFP “progress is made as quickly as possible while ensuring it is appropriate for our labor market”.

Reuters quoting a “representative of World Cup organizers Qatar” as saying: “Since construction (of the stadium) began in 2014, there have been three work-related deaths and 35 non-work-related deaths.

“The School Committee has investigated every case, learning lessons to avoid a recurrence of cases in the future.”

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