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

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

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England captain Harry Kane will wear a badge "one love" "One Love" In the World Cup in Qatar

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

Ten European football federations, including those of England and Wales, say “human rights are universal and apply everywhere” after FIFA asked countries competing in the World Cup in Qatar to “focus now on football”.

FIFA wrote to all 32 teams after the controversial preparations for the tournament, which begins on 20 November.

Qatar, which is hosting the World Cup, has been criticized for its stance on same-sex relationships, its human rights record, and its treatment of migrant workers.

FIFA’s letter has been criticized by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and LGBT activists in England and Wales.

Recognizing the “significant progress” made by Qatar, a joint statement issued by members of the UEFA Working Group on Human and Labor Rights said it would “continue to pressure” FIFA for answers on outstanding issues relating to migrant workers.

“We acknowledge and welcome, as we have done in the past, the significant progress made by Qatar, particularly with regard to the rights of migrant workers, with the impact of legislative changes outlined in recent ILO reports,” the statement said.

“We welcome the assurances made by the Qatari government and FIFA regarding the safety, security and inclusion of all fans traveling to the World Cup, including LGBT fans. We also recognize that every country has problems and challenges and we agree with FIFA that diversity is a strength.”

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

The letter from FIFA, signed by President Gianni Infantino and General Secretary Fatma Samoura, urged football not to be “dragged” into ideological or political “battles” and not to be “distribution of moral lessons”.

Peaceful protests were planned by some players, while England’s Harry Kane and nine other captains from the European teams would wear the “One Love” badges. To promote diversity and inclusion.

Denmark’s national team players will wear “modified” shirts in protest of Qatar, with Hummel, the team’s kit supplier, saying it “does not want to appear” at the tournament it claims has “cost thousands of lives”, while the Australian national team posted a video urging Qatar to take action. Repeal its laws on same-sex relationships.

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Bayern Munich fans have unveiled a banner protesting the World Cup in Qatar after FIFA wrote to all 32 countries asking them to “put football first”.

Don Ron – BBC Sport Editor

Although written diplomatically, this joint statement is a powerful and defiant response to FIFA’s “stick with football” message last week, which surprised the Football Association and the American Football Association, stunned many in the sport and which has been widely condemned by human rights groups and gay rights activists. and transgender people.

These 10 Western European federations aim to firmly reaffirm their national teams’ right to take a stand on social issues in Qatar, such as the plan by England and Wales players to wear rainbow armbands as part of an anti-discrimination campaign in a country where it is illegal to be gay.

It is an apparent rejection of FIFA’s demand that political concerns and human rights be set aside for the duration of the World Cup, amid a crowd marred by countless moral and geopolitical controversies and the hosts’ increasingly aggressive approach to their critics.

There is also a growing frustration felt by many in European football, over what the statement refers to as “two major outstanding issues” – the status of migrant workers and a compensation fund for those killed or injured during the World Cup preparations.

Recognizing the “important” labor reforms, members of the UEFA Working Group on Human Rights have been expecting FIFA to help advance these two issues for several months and hope this will prompt them to make renewed efforts.

With the tournament just days away, it remains to be seen if this statement is helpful, but it is certainly a reminder of the tension and division that surrounds the event’s final preparations.

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