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Before the World Cup in Qatar, European FAs urge Fifa that “human rights are universal.”


Nov-06 17:21 first published at 17:21 PM

Sign up for Miguel Delaney’s Reading the Game newsletter, which will be delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe to Miguel’s Delaney’s weekly newsletter for free. Ten European nations, including England, competing in the 2022 World Cup this winter in Qatar have responded to Fifa’s message to prioritize football over politics by stating that “human rights are universal and apply everywhere.” The FA of England, along with the FAs of Wales, Portugal, Sweden, and Germany, issued a joint statement pledging to ensure that the game’s governing body followed through on promises to compensate migrant workers, while also reiterating that football must use its global standing to drive change. Fifa wrote to all involved nations earlier this week, amid rising criticism and perceived hostility toward the hosts, saying “let’s now focus on the football” and urging the 32 federations not to “drag football into every ideological or political battle that exists.” Those requests, however, were rejected by the ten European nations, who noted that while Qatar has made improvements in their human rights record, much work remains ahead, and that the “security and inclusion” of LGBTQ+ fans in particular was an element that needed to be highlighted ahead of the finals. “With the Fifa World Cup Qatar starting soon, we would like to react to the latest developments and public discussions related to challenges in the host country off the pitch before the sport takes center stage,” the statement read in full. We acknowledge and welcome, as we have in the past, that Qatar has made significant progress, particularly in terms of migrant worker rights, as evidenced by the impact of legislative changes in recent International Labour Organization reports. “We welcome the assurances provided by the Qatari government and Fifa regarding the safety, security, and inclusion of all World Cup fans, including LGBTQ+ fans.” We also acknowledge that every country faces problems and challenges, and we agree with Fifa that diversity is a strength.” However, embracing diversity and tolerance entails advocating for human rights. Human rights are universal and apply to everyone and everywhere.” We will continue to support the momentum for positive, progressive change, as well as advocate for a final outcome and an update on the two key outstanding issues we have been discussing for a long time with Fifa.” Fifa has repeatedly committed to providing concrete answers on these issues – the migrant workers compensation fund and the concept of a migrant workers center in Doha – and we will continue to press for these to be delivered.” We believe in the power of football to make additional positive and credible contributions to global progressive and sustainable change.” [Signed,] The Football Associations of: Belgium, Peter Bossaert; Denmark, Jakob Jensen; England, Mark Bullingham; Germany, Heike Ullrich; The Netherlands, Gijs de Jong; Norway, Lise Klaveness; Portugal, Teresa Romão; Sweden, Håkan Sjöstrand; Switzerland, Dominique Blanc; Wales, Noel Mooney.” Qatar is not the only country facing criticism; a women’s rights group has petitioned Fifa to expel Iran from the World Cup due to the country’s oppression and treatment of women.

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