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World Cup 2022: Football Association criticised over Qatar statement

Migrant workers have helped to construct the stadiums that will stage the World Cup
Migrant workers have helped to construct the stadiums that will stage the World Cup

Campaigners have criticised the Football Association for the “severe delay” in its statement on human rights in the lead-up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

On Wednesday the FA launched an anti-discrimination campaign that will feature a OneLove armband.

It also backed calls for compensation to be awarded for any injury or death related to a World Cup construction project.

But Human Rights Watch has questioned the timing of the move.

“The English Football Association’s statement is welcome despite the severe delay,” said spokesperson Rothna Begum.

“With just weeks to go before the first football is kicked, it is urgent that all football associations maximise pressure on Fifa and Qatari authorities to commit to and set up a fund that will compensate wage theft, injuries and deaths since they were awarded the hosting of the World Cup in 2010.

“The statement notes that they needed the time to work out what role they needed to play, but we and many others have been calling on them for much longer to step up their support for migrant workers.”

The World Cup takes place in the Gulf state from 20 November to 18 December.

The FA says it has been in dialogue for more than a year over Qatar with human rights organisations, trade unions and non-governmental organisations “in order to get a balanced understanding of the key issues in the country and wider region”.

The OneLove anti-discrimination armband
The OneLove armband promotes diversity and inclusion – and is a symbol aimed at standing up to discrimination

England captain Harry Kane plans to wear a OneLove armband for Nations League games and at the World Cup.

The Netherlands began the OneLove campaign prior to Euro 2020 to promote diversity and inclusion, and as a message against discrimination.

Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Wales and Switzerland are also supporting the initiative.

It is estimated up to 30,000 migrant labourers have been used on projects to build seven stadiums for the finals in Qatar, as well as a new airport, new metro and new roads.

Amnesty International says that since 2010, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers have faced human rights abuses while employed to build wider infrastructure necessary to host the tournament, as well as the venues.

The FA said it is lobbying football’s world governing body Fifa to construct a migrant workers’ centre and that workers will be invited to the England team’s World Cup training base in Al Wakrah to engage with players.

Begnum said the armbands were “an important symbol to show support”.

But she added: “All football associations should also be calling on the Qatari authorities to ensure that no-one faces discrimination for their gender, sexual orientation, and regardless of whether they are Qatari or foreign national, during or after the World Cup.”

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