European football presses FIFA for answers on human rights

The FIFA World Cup is being held in Qatar, starting on November 20. Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

The Swiss Football Associatioin is among several European football bodies that are calling on FIFA to provide “concrete answers” on issues related to migrant workers ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.

This content was published on November 6, 2022 minutes

In a joint statementExternal link, the associations acknowledged that significant progress has been made in Qatar with regards to labour rights but said challenges remain in the host country “off the pitch”.

The letter was signed by federations from ten countries, including Switzerland, that are part of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Working Group on Human and Labour Rights.

The group said that it continues to advocate for a conclusive outcome and update on two key outstanding issues, specifically the compensation fund for migrant workers and the concept of a migrant workers centre in Doha. “FIFA has repeatedly committed to delivery concrete answers on these issues,” writes the group.

Qatari authorities are regularly criticised by international NGOs for the treatment of hundreds of thousands of workers, particularly from Asia, at the major construction sites for the 2022 World Cup, which is scheduled to begin November 20.

In September, FIFA issued a statement indicating that a "wide range of measures" have already been taken in recent years to improve worker protection in Qatar. 

Welcome LGBTQ+ fans

Also in the letter was the topic of diversity and inclusion, specifically of LGBTQ+ communities. Rights organisations have asked for guarantees of the safety of LGBTQ+ fans who travel to Qatar, where homosexuality is a criminal offense, punishable with prison time.

Captains from several European football teams have committed to wear One Love rainbow armbands in support of LGBTQ+ rights. This could be in breach of FIFA regulations that state that a player's “compulsory equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images".

Qatar has showed signs that it will welcome LGBTQ+ fans, writes Bloomberg, which saw a presentation indicating that Qatari police could allow spectators to display rainbow flags and protest peacefully. 

“We welcome the assurances given by the Qatari government and by FIFA regarding the safety, security, and inclusion of all fans who travel to Qatar, including LGBTQ+ fans,” writes the UEFA human rights group.

“We also recognise that every country has issues and challenges and we agree with FIFA that diversity is a strength,” it added. “However, embracing diversity and tolerance also means supporting human rights. Human rights are universal and they apply everywhere.”

The working group is made up of representatives from 10 nations: England, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales.

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