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, said “human rights are universal and apply everywhere” after FIFA urged Qatar’s World Cup nations to “focus on football now”.

World governing body wrote letters to all 32 teams After a controversial training session for the tournament, which starts on November 20.

Host Qatar has come under fire 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 in England and Wales, Amnesty International and LGBT+ campaigners.

In a joint statement by members of UEFA’s Working Group on Human Rights and Labor Rights, Qatar acknowledged “significant progress” and said it would “continue to press” FIFA to respond to the challenges surrounding migrant workers.

“We recognize and welcome the significant progress Qatar has made, particularly with respect to the rights of migrant workers, as a result of the legislative changes outlined in the latest ILO report.” said in a statement.

“We welcome the assurances from the Government of Qatar and FIFA to ensure the inclusion of all fans, including LGBTQ+ fans, at the World Cup. We also agree with FIFA that each country has its own challenges and issues. .diversity is strength.

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“However, accepting diversity and tolerance means promoting human rights. Human rights are universal and apply everywhere.”

The letter, signed by FIFA president Gianni Infantino and general secretary Fatma Samoura, urged that football should not be “dragged” into ideological or political “battles” or teach “moral lessons”.

While some players plan to stage a peaceful protest, England’s Harry Kane and the captains of nine other European teams will wear the jerseys. One Love Armband. promote diversity and inclusion.

Denmark will wear “clear” shirts In protest against Qatar, kit supplier Hummel said he did not want to play in a tournament that “has cost thousands of lives”, while Australia released a video Qatar has been urged to repeal its law on same-sex relationships.

The FA has backed calls for compensation for “any construction-related injuries or fatalities” during the World Cup.

“We will continue to support the momentum of positive and progressive change and continue to advocate for the renewal and final outcome of two key issues that have been discussed with FIFA for a long time,” UEFA’s Task Force said in a statement.

“FIFA has repeatedly promised to provide concrete answers to these issues – the migrant worker compensation fund and the concept of a migrant worker center in Doha – and we will continue to press for these to be delivered.

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

At Germany’s Bundesliga games on Saturday, fans held placard-wielding protests in the crowd.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani has criticized his country’s hosting of the World Cup as hypocritical, saying very few people in the 10 countries are buying into the call for a boycott. at most people who do not represent the rest of the world at all.”

And in the interview Skyexternal link “People cannot accept a small Middle Eastern country hosting the World Cup,” he added on Sunday.

“Remote preaching is not the solution.

Bayern Munich fans unveil a Qatar World Cup ad during the Bundesliga match between Hertha BSC and FC Bayern Munich at Olympiastadion on November 5, 2022 in Berlin, Germany.
Bayern Munich fans unfurled a flag in protest at Qatar’s World Cup after FIFA urged the 32 nations to “put football first”.

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Analysis

BBC sports editor Dan Roan

Diplomatically worded, the joint statement is a strong and defiant response to FIFA’s stunning “stick to football” letter last week that stunned the FA and FAW, angered many in the sport and was condemned by human rights groups. and LGBT+ campaigners.

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The aim of these 10 Western European associations is to assert their teams’ position on social issues in Qatar, with England and Wales players planning to wear rainbow armbands as part of the country’s anti-discrimination campaign, for example. where it is illegal to be gay.

Due to numerous ethical and geopolitical controversies and an increasingly aggressive approach, FIFA has clearly rejected requests to sideline politics and human rights during the World Cup. the presenters addressed their critics.

And many in European football are understandably upset by what they say are “two key issues” in the statement; Center for Migrant Workers and Compensation Fund for those killed and injured during World Cup preparations.

While members of UEFA’s human rights working group agree on “important” labor reforms, months ago FIFA hoped to help make progress on both causes, hoping it would encourage them to renew their efforts.

It remains to be seen whether the announcement helps with the tournament just days away, but it certainly hints at the tension and division surrounding the final preparations for the tournament.

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