FIFA rebuked over plea to World Cup teams to focus on football in Qatar
Amnesty International has strongly criticised FIFA for its message urging teams competing in the World Cup in Qatar to “focus on football” rather than “handing out moral lessons.”
The state of Qatar has been under constant scrutiny for its human rights record, especially in regards to its treatment of foreign workers and its stance on women’s and LGBTQ rights.
Captains from several major European countries, including England, France, and Germany, will participate in an anti-discrimination campaign by wearing armbands in rainbow colours with the message “One Love” in the Gulf state, where homosexuality is illegal.
Australian athletes spoke out against the “suffering” of migrant workers last week.
However, in a letter to all 32 World Cup teams, FIFA president Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura urged everyone to “please let s now focus on the football.”
When contacted by AFP, the global governing body acknowledged sending the letter, which had been reported by Sky News.
Football, it said, “does not exist in a vacuum,” and neither do “many challenges and difficulties of a political nature” around the world.
Please don’t let football become a pawn in every political and ideological fight.
Amnesty International, a human rights organisation, has been very critical of FIFA and has urged the group to take human rights more seriously.
“If Gianni Infantino wants the world to focus on the football, there is a simple solution: FIFA could finally start tackling the serious human rights issues rather than brushing them under the carpet,” said Steve Cockburn, head of Amnesty International’s economic and social justice programme.
Making a public commitment to creating a fund to compensate migrant workers and ensuring that LGBT people do not face discrimination or harassment before the tournament begins would be a good first step. It’s unbelievable that they haven’t done it by now.
Football does not exist in a vacuum, as Gianni Infantino has pointed out, and the rights of the hundreds of thousands of workers who endured abuses to make this tournament possible must not be forgotten or disregarded.
Qatar maintains its record of success
FIFA secretary general Samoura responded to the growing criticism by calling the World Cup a “festival of football.”
She reassured everyone that they would be welcomed in Qatar regardless of their “race,” “faith,” or “social” or “sexual” identities.
Participants from Qatar have defended their country’s human rights record.
In response to the complaints of Australian players, a World Cup spokesman admitted that the country had struggled with enforcing its “robust” labour laws.
Earlier this week, Arab League countries blasted criticism of Qatar, labelling it a “defamation campaign” in the lead-up to the World Cup.
According to the FIFA letter, “one of the great assets of the globe is certainly its own variety,” and “if inclusion implies having respect for that difference,” then that is exactly what it means.
There is “no superior race, culture, or country.”
This Monday, Ali bin Samikh Al Marri, the minister of labour in Qatar, told AFP that the requests for a new compensation fund for migrant employees were nothing more than a “publicity stunt.”
In addition, he called “racist” the views of some of the country’s detractors.
Jordan Henderson, captain of Liverpool and a likely member of England’s roster, told the BBC on Friday, “Whatever we do will t be enough.”
A lot of pressure is placed on players to decide whether a country is ready to host the World Cup, he said. But in the end, it is FIFA that decides where the World Cup will be held, not the players.
“As players, all we can do is go out there and play football and try to make a difference in whatever ways we can.”
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