Ahead of the qualifiers, Norwegian, German and Dutch footballers protested against Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers.
Footballers hold protests on the pitch during the 2022 World Cup qualifiers to highlight Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and its human rights record, which have been in the spotlight since it took off. received the award for organizing next year’s tournament.
A media report released earlier this month alleged that 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka had died in Qatar since 2010, when the country was granted the rights host of the 2022 tournament.
Qatar responded by saying that “the death rate of these communities is within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population.”
There have also been protests against the harsh working conditions, especially during the summer when the temperature often exceeds 40 ° C (104 ° F), wage abuses – including at a stadium site of the World Cup – and the lack of rights accorded to migrant workers, who make up about 95% of Qatar’s population.
The Qatari government told Al Jazeera it had made several reforms over the years on working conditions and labor rights.
The Netherlands national team wore t-shirts with the words “Football supports change”.
Norwegian players wore jerseys that read “HUMAN RIGHTS” and “On and off the pitch”.
The German team lined up in black jerseys, each with a white letter to spell “HUMAN RIGHTS”, but their football association has declared itself opposed to the boycott of the World Cup.
On Sunday, Danish actors “will dare to speak out in favor of human rights”.
Last week Amnesty International sent a letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino calling on world football’s governing body to use its influence with Qatari authorities to help end abuses against migrant workers.
What was Qatar’s response?
In August 2020, Qatar announced benchmark changes to labor laws, including removing the need for an NOC – the employer’s permission to change jobs – which human rights activists have said is linked to the workers’ presence in the country to their employers and leads to abuse and exploitation.
The announcement was the latest in a series of labor reforms carried out by the country in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup.
Responding to the report earlier this month, the Qatar World Cup organizing committee said it had “always been transparent about the health and safety of workers.”
“Since construction [of stadiums] started in 2014, there were three work-related deaths and 35 non-work-related deaths, ”said a representative. “The C [organising committee] investigated each case, learning lessons to avoid repetition in the future. “
Earlier this month, the Government of Qatar Communications Office (GCO) told Al Jazeera the country “has made substantial progress in labor reforms and continues to work with NGOs … to ensure that these reforms are far reaching and effective”.
“We have improved health and safety standards for workers, strengthened the capacity of labor inspectors … increased penalties for companies that break the law,” a recent GCO statement said.
What was FIFA’s position?
The FIFA Disciplinary Code stipulates that players and federations may face disciplinary sanctions for “using a sporting event for events of a non-sporting nature”.
However, the organization said it would not open proceedings against the protests by the German and Norwegian players.
“FIFA believes in freedom of expression and in the power of football as a force for good,” said a FIFA spokesperson.
Last week, Infantino said Qatar made social progress by becoming host of the World Cup.
What are other actors / nations doing?
England manager Gareth Southgate said the England Football Association and Amnesty were in talks.
German midfielder Joshua Kimmich said calls for a boycott came “10 years too late”.
“It was not awarded this year, but a few years ago. We should have thought about the boycott at the time, ”Kimmich said.
“Now we have to seize the opportunity and use our advertising to raise awareness of things. But it’s not just about the footballers… we have to work together.
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has said it would be a mistake for the teams to boycott the World Cup following protests from players.