The Socceroos became the first World Cup football team to collectively condemn the host country’s human rights record, Qatar.
In a collective video statement, the players took turns turning to the camera to explain why they felt the need to address Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and members of the LGBTIQ + community.
According to the country’s Criminal Code of 1971, sexual acts in same-sex relationships can carry a prison sentence of up to five years.
They said a rationale for talking about what understanding of the power of inheritance they want to leave behind.
“There are universal values that should define football. Values such as respect, dignity, trust and courage,” said the players in the video.
“When we represent our nation, we aspire to embody these values.”
Players said they have spent the past two years learning more about the experiences of these groups, adding that they don’t claim to be experts, nor do they have all the answers.
“These migrant workers who have suffered are not just numbers. Like the migrants who have shaped our country and our football, they have had the same courage and determination to build a better life.
“As players we fully support the rights of LGBTIQ + people. But in Qatar, people are not free to love the person they choose.
“Tackling these problems is not easy and we don’t have all the answers.”
The team called for measures including a resource center for migrants, an effective remedy for those who have been deprived of their rights, and the decriminalization of all same-sex relationships.
The Socceroos said they have worked with a number of groups to take a stand on Qatar, speaking with Australian professional footballers, FIFA, the Supreme Committee, the International Labor Organization, FIFPRO and Qatari migrant workers.
Australian professional footballers praise the “courage of the players”
Australian professional footballers applauded the video’s statement, saying there is a recognition that the views “may not be universally popular”.
The group urged people to keep the civil debate going.
“Some will believe they have not gone far enough, while others will invite them to stay in football and stay out of ‘politics’, despite the fact that this is a human rights issue. This polarity says a lot about the courage of the players and also about the increasingly fractured nature. of the world, “said Professional Footballers Australia.
“As we approach kick-off, players from every nation will continue to be questioned about their position in Qatar.
“Recognizing that the players have not awarded the World Cup host country is crucial. They have no say in its delivery and its operations.
“In the absence of leadership from the administrators in charge of assigning the hosting rights and running the tournament, it fell to the players, coaches and fans to provide moral leadership.”
German, Norwegian and Dutch national teams protested Qatar’s human rights record through slogans worn on select shirts and uniforms.
The Norwegian team had T-shirts marked “Human Rights, on and off the pitch”. The Dutch national team wore shirts with the words “Football supports change”. The German team wore T-shirts each with a letter that together spelled “human rights”.
What are the human rights concerns?
Last week, Amnesty International published an assessment of the reforms implemented in the area of worker protection, noting that the Qatari authorities have made some progress in establishing protections for migrant workers, but much remains to be done.
“Ultimately, human rights violations persist today on a significant scale,” says the report entitled “Unfinished Business”.
“Given that both Qatar and FIFA have benefited from the work of migrant workers, they cannot simply turn the page and forget those who suffered to make the event possible.
“They must work together to urgently establish a comprehensive reparation program that provides financial compensation to workers and their families and supports initiatives to prevent abuse in the future.”
Since the country obtained reception rights ten years ago, at least 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died during the construction process of football stadiums, according to a from government sources reported by the Guardian newspaper.
The lack of mandatory protections for workers and the use of the kafala sponsorship agreement – which binds the employee’s legal status to the employer – have created an environment in which exploitative practices such as confiscated passports, stolen wages and fields are used. crowded.
Qatar, the first country in the Middle East to host the World Cup, is preparing for 1.2 million visitors during the tournament from November 20 to December 18.
What did Qatar say?
In a televised speech earlier this week, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, criticized allegations of human rights abuses, saying the campaign against Qatar had gone too far.
“We initially approached the matter in good faith,” Sheikh Tamim said, adding that the initial remarks were considered constructive.
But now he said the claims “include inventions and double standards so fierce that sadly it has prompted many people to question the real reasons and motivations behind the campaign.”
In August, Qatari officials during the tournament.
“Everyone will be able to come, enjoy the games and support their teams, regardless of their background, religion or gender,” said Fatma Al-Nuaimi, executive director of communications for the Supreme Committee for the delivery and legacy of the tournament.