Australian men’s national soccer team condemns Qatar’s human rights record ahead of World Cup

FILE – Branding is displayed near the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center in Doha, Qatar, Thursday, March 31, 2022. Qatar’s ruling emir has lashed out at criticism of the country over its hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, complaining of an “unprecedented campaign” targeting the first Arab nation to hold the tournament. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic, File)

The Australian men’s national soccer team released a video on Thursday condemning Qatar, the host country of the 2022 World Cup, over its record on LGBTQ and migrant workers’ rights. 

In a video posted on their social media accounts, the sixteen members of the “Socceroos” national team raised their concerns about Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers employed to help with their hosting duties and urged the country’s government to allow LGBTQ residents to expresses themselves freely. 

“We have learned that the decision to host the World Cup in Qatar has resulted in the suffering and the harm of countless of our fellow workers,” the players said in their video, saying that working conditions have improved since the dismantling of the “kafala system,” which allows employers to take away migrants’ passports and not allow them to leave the country. 

The players added, however, that the laws for migrant workers still need improvement. 

“These migrant workers who have suffered and not just numbers, like the migrants that have shaped our country and our football, they possess the same courage and determination to build a better life. 

“As players we fully support the rights of the LGBTI+  people. But in Qatar people are not free to love the person that they choose,” the national team added, saying they stand with support for various organizations such as Fifpro and the Building and Wood Workers International helping to create better resources for migrant workers and end the criminalization of same-sex relationships in the country. 

“This is how we can ensure a legacy that goes well beyond the final whistle of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, one that football can truly be proud of,” the players concluded. 

The video statement comes after Australia’s soccer players union, Professional Footballers Australia, and Football Australia, the country’s governing body for soccer, also issued letters and statements about Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and stance on LGBTQ rights. 

Qatar authorities in August arrested up to 60 migrant workers who protested working conditions and low wages ahead of the World Cup.

Advocacy group Equidem told The Associated Press that some detained migrant workers were deported back to their countries. 

The 2022 World Cup begins on Nov. 20 when host country Qatar takes on its group-stage opponent Ecuador.

Tags 2022 World Cup Australia FIFA FIFA World Cup Football Australia LGBTQ rights migrant workers Professional Footballers Australia Qatar
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