World Cup 2022: 10 European football associations respond to Fifa’s ‘focus on football’ letter

Captain Harry Kane wears a rainbow armband during an England match.
England captain Harry Kane will wear the ‘One Love’ armband at the World Cup in Qatar.

Ten European football associations, including England and Wales, say “human rights are universal and apply everywhere” after FIFA asked countries participating in the Qatar World Cup to “focus on football now”. are”.

Global governing body Wrote to all 32 teams After a controversial build-up to the tournament starting on November 20.

Host Qatar has been criticized for its stance on same-sex relationships, its human rights record and its treatment of migrant workers.

FIFA’s letter was criticized by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and LGBT+ campaigners in England and Wales.

Acknowledging “significant progress” by Qatar, a joint statement issued by members of UEFA’s working group on human rights and labor rights said it had responded to outstanding issues related to migrant workers. “will continue to put pressure” on FIFA for

“We acknowledge, and welcome, as we have done in the past, that legislation by Qatar, particularly with regard to the rights of migrant workers, has been reflected in recent International Labor Organization reports. “There has been significant progress with the impact of the changes.” said the statement.

“We welcome the assurances given by the Qatari government and FIFA regarding the safety, security and inclusion of all fans traveling to the World Cup, including LGBTQ+ fans. We also recognize that each country faces challenges. And there are challenges and we agree with FIFA that diversity is a strength.

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“However, embracing diversity and tolerance also means supporting human rights. Human rights are universal and apply everywhere.”

The FIFA letter, signed by its president Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatima Samura, stressed that football should not be “dragged” into ideological or political “battles” and that it should be a “moral lesson”. “It should not be given.

Peaceful protests are planned by some players, while England’s Harry Kane and nine other European captains will wear the jersey. ‘One Love’ Armband. Promoting diversity and inclusion.

Denmark will wear. “Toned down” shirts In protest against Qatar, kit supplier Hummel said he “didn’t want to be seen” at a tournament he claimed had “lost thousands of lives”, while Australia’s squad Released a video Urged Qatar to scrap its laws on same-sex relationships.

England’s FA has backed calls for compensation for “any injury or death related to any construction project” for the World Cup.

“We will continue to support the pace of positive, progressive change and continue to advocate for a final outcome and update on the two key outstanding issues that we will continue to discuss with FIFA,” the UEFA Working Group’s statement continued. have been talking together for a long time.”

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“FIFA has repeatedly committed to concrete responses to these issues – a compensation fund for migrant workers, and the concept of a migrant workers’ center in Doha – and we will continue to press for these to be delivered.

“We believe in the power of football to make a more positive and credible contribution to sustainable change in the developing world.”

On Saturday, fans held up banners in the crowd at Bundesliga games in Germany to protest.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani has said criticism of his country’s hosting of the World Cup amounts to “hypocrisy”, while calls for a boycott are being made by “a small number of people in 10 countries”. At most, who are not representative of the rest of the world”.

And in an interview the skyExternal link On Sunday, he added that people “can’t accept a small Middle Eastern country” hosting the World Cup.

“Preaching from a distance is not a solution,” he said.

Bayern Munich fans unveil a banner about the Qatar World Cup during the Bundesliga match between Hertha BSC and FC Bayern Munich at the Olympiastadion on November 05, 2022 in Berlin, Germany.
Bayern Munich fans unveiled a banner protesting the Qatar World Cup after FIFA wrote to all 32 nations to ‘put football first’.

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Dean Rowan, BBC sports editor

While diplomatically worded, the joint statement is a strong and defiant response to FIFA’s remarkable ‘stick to football’ letter last week, which surprised the FA and FAW, many in the game. disappointed, and widely condemned by human rights groups. and LGBT+ campaigners.

The 10 Western European federations aim to strongly reiterate their teams’ stance on social issues in Qatar, such as the rainbow arms worn by England and Wales players as part of a campaign against discrimination in the country. Binding plan. Where being gay is illegal.

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And it implicitly rejects FIFA’s plea that political and human rights concerns have been put aside for the duration of the World Cup, amid a build-up that has fueled numerous moral and geopolitical conflicts, and increasingly aggressive Influenced by the way of thinking. From the hosts to their critics.

There is also a sense of growing frustration that many within European football feel over what the statement describes as “two key outstanding issues”. A migrant worker center and a compensation fund for those killed or injured during preparations for the World Cup.

Recognizing “important” labor reforms, members of UEFA’s working group on human rights expected FIFA to help deliver progress on both of these causes several months ago, and hope that this will lead them to a new effort. I will be encouraged.

With the tournament still days away, it remains to be seen if the statement helps, but it is certainly a reminder of the tension and division surrounding the final preparations for the event.

Further reading on Qatar 2022 World Cup

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