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

England captain Harry Kane will wear the ‘One Love’ armband at the World Cup in Qatar

Ten European football associations, including England and Wales, said “human rights are universal and apply everywhere” after FIFA urged nations competing in the Qatar World Cup to “focus on football now”.

World governing body He has written to all 32 groups After the controversial development of the tournament, which will start 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.

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

Despite acknowledging the “significant progress” made by Qatar, a joint statement by members of UEFA’s human and labor rights working group said FIFA would “continue to press” for answers on the outstanding issues surrounding migrant workers.

“We acknowledge and welcome, as we have done in the past, that Qatar has made significant progress, particularly with regard to the rights of migrant workers, as a result of the legislative changes evidenced in recent reports from the International Labor Organization.” said the statement.

“We welcome the assurances given by the Government of Qatar and FIFA regarding the safety, security and inclusion of all fans traveling to the World Cup, including LGBTQ+ fans. We also recognize that every country has issues and challenges and agree with Fifa that diversity is a strength.

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

FIFA’s letter, signed by president Gianni Infantino and general secretary Fatma Samoura, insisted that football should not be “led” into ideological or political “battles” and should not “give moral lessons”.

Some players have organized peaceful protests, while England’s Harry Kane and nine other European captains will be in uniform. ‘One Love’ bracelets. to promote diversity and inclusion.

Denmark will wear it “tone” shirts In protest against Qatar, equipment supplier Hummel said it “doesn’t want to be visible” in a tournament it says has “cost thousands of lives”, while the Australian team released a video calling on Qatar to repeal laws on same-sex relationships.

The English FA has backed claims for compensation for “any injury or death in connection with any construction project” for the World Cup.

“We will continue to support the push for positive and progressive change and will continue to advocate for a decisive outcome and an update on the two main key issues we have been discussing with Fifa for a long time,” continued the Uefa Working Group’s statement.

“FIFA has repeatedly committed to providing detailed answers on these issues – the compensation fund for migrant workers and the concept of a migrant worker center to be created in Doha – and we will continue to press for them to provide them.

“We believe in the power of football to make more positive and credible contributions to progressive sustainable change in the world.”

On Saturday, there were protests at German Bundesliga matches with fans raising banners.

Bayern Munich fans present a banner about the Qatar World Cup during the Bundesliga match between Hertha BSC and FC Bayern München on November 05, 2022 at Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany.
Bayern Munich fans unveiled a banner to protest the World Cup in Qatar after FIFA wrote to 32 countries to “put football first”.

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BBC sports editor Dan Roan

Although diplomatically worded, this joint statement is a strong and defiant response to FIFA’s appalling “stick to football” letter last week, which took the FA and FAW by surprise, shocked many in the sport and was widely condemned by human rights groups. and LGBT+ campaigns.

The 10 western European federations intend to firmly assert the right of their teams to take a stand on social issues in Qatar, such as a plan for England and Wales players to wear rainbow armbands as part of an anti-discrimination campaign in the country. where it is illegal to be gay.

And it is a clear rejection of FIFA’s request to ignore political and human rights concerns during the World Cup due to numerous ethical and geopolitical controversies and an increasingly aggressive approach. hosts to their critics.

The frustration felt by many within European football is also evident in what the statement cites as “two key outstanding issues”; The Center for Migrant Workers and the compensation fund for those killed or injured during World Cup preparations.

Despite the adoption of “significant” labor reforms, members of Uefa’s human rights working group hoped that Fifa would help make progress on both of these causes several months ago, and hope that this will spur them on to a new effort.

With the tournament just days away, it remains to be seen whether this statement helps, but it certainly serves as 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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