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

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By Martin Graham | 8th Nov 2022

10 international football associations including the English and Welsh FA have responded to FIFA’s statement that urged the countries that will participate at the World Cup to focus on football.

The letter written by football’s governing body to all 32 teams that have qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup did not trigger their desired response as these countries will not back down from speaking on the social issues that plague the World Cup’s host Nation. The letter was particularly criticized by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and LGBT+ campaigners in England and Wales.

Qatar have been subject to a lot of criticism because of their stance on same sex relationships as well as their treatment of immigrant workers and human rights issues.

A joint statement issued by members of the UEFA Working Group on human rights and labour rights expressed that although they acknowledge the great progress made by Qatar on this subject, they will continue to press FIFA for answers regarding the issues that has to do with migrant workers.

“We acknowledge, and welcome, as we have done in the past, that significant progress has been made by Qatar, particularly with regards to the rights of migrant workers, with the impact of legislative changes demonstrated in the International Labour Organisation’s recent reports,” the statement read.

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

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

FIFA’s letter, signed by its president Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura, urged that football should not be “dragged” into ideological or political “battles” and it should not be “handing out moral lessons”.

These countries have already planned out peaceful protests during the tournament as captains like Gareth Bale and Harry Kane will be promoting diversity and inclusion by wearing one love armbands.

Australia’s national team have released a video  asking Qatar to end its laws on same-sex relationship. Danish Kit makers Hummel have designed a toned down World Cup kits as they do not wish to be visible at a tournament they believe has claimed thousands of lives.

The UEFA working group have also asked for compensation funds to be provided for migrants as well as the construction of a migrant workers centre in Doha.

“We will continue to support the momentum for positive, progressive change and continue to advocate for a conclusive outcome and update on the two key outstanding issues we have been discussing with FIFA for a long time,” the UEFA Working Group’s statement continued.

“FIFA has repeatedly committed to deliver concrete answers on these issues – the compensation fund for migrant workers, and the concept of a migrant workers centre to be created in Doha – and we will continue to press for these to be delivered.

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

Qatar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani has described the criticism levied at Qatar as hypocrisy and claims that the countries that are involved do not represent the rest of the world.

The World Cup kicks off on November 20th where Qatar will take on Ecuador.

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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