SportSoccer FIFA World CupViews 9.45 a.m. on September 21, 2022 9.45 a.m. on September 21, 2022 When it comes to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022, silence is not an option. Everyone involved with the World Cup, including players, especially former players who have made a living from the game, broadcasters, national federations, administrators, and sponsors, has a responsibility to speak out on behalf of families who have suffered in order for a ball to be kicked. At least 6500 migrant workers from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal were killed while constructing US$220 billion in infrastructure for the event, which included seven new stadiums, an airport, roads, public transportation, and approximately 100 hotels. For every goal scored, approximately 39 lives will be lost so that we can rise as one to scream, exult, and celebrate. Consider those families when your favorite player scores, your country wins, and your captain hoists the trophy. Sport has historically abdicated responsibility for the too-often enormous harm caused by major events such as the Olympics and World Cup, in which impoverished populations were relocated, dissidents were imprisoned or killed, and worker rights were violated. But, more than a decade after Qatar was awarded hosting rights, and just two months before the first game, the specter of abuse hangs over the event. Inhumane, furnace-like conditions in which migrant workers slaved, some paying with their lives, were described in graphic detail in media reports, and eventually labor unions and human rights organizations were able to force some reform. But not enough, and not before thousands of people died as players, particularly former greats, rushed to Qatar to reap hundreds of millions with barely a whisper about the families who paid the terrible price. In the 12 years since Qatar was awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup, thousands of workers have died. Credit:AP The ‘kafala system,’ or modern slave labor in real terms, was eventually reformed, but wage theft, slave-like conditions, and abuse continue on a daily basis. Last month, a group of migrant workers were deported for exercising their right to free association and assembly in order to protest their mistreatment. And football remained silent. Other sports are far more progressive in their efforts to promote human rights and social justice. The WNBA is a shining example, with Lewis Hamilton’s rainbow helmet and Naomi Osaka’s support for Black Lives Matter standing out. Football, however, has a long way to go with billions of dollars buying the collective conscience of the game. During the qualification campaign, the national teams of Norway and Germany protested, Socceroos captain Maty Ryan and teammate Jackson Irvine expressed their concern, the Danish and Dutch Federations have stated their institutional opposition while Football Australia remains silent, and the world’s player union, FIFPro, is advocating for a migrant worker center in Qatar as a legacy of the event. But what about the collateral damage, or justice for those who died? Socceroo Jackson Irvine has expressed his personal concern about the Qatar tournament, but Football Australia has remained silent. Credit:Getty They will never be forgotten. The FIFA Human Rights Policy of 2017 enshrined all internationally recognized human rights, but it came too late for thousands. Meanwhile, the LGBTQ community remains criminalized in Qatar, making gay and lesbian World Cup fans feel unsafe. The Qatari Supreme Committee urges people to “respect our culture.” Football’s obligation, however, is to international law rather than culture. Sport is only left adrift in a sea of conflicting laws, customs, and priorities, and is frequently a contributor and enabler of harmful practices. The International Olympic Committee’s role is not to capitulate to the Chinese Communist Party and remain silent about the atrocities committed against Uighurs in Xinjiang. It is also not FIFA’s responsibility to accept Qatar’s interpretation of worker protections or gender inequality. Instead, they should advocate for fundamental human engagement and treatment, and use their influence to shape the world. In December, the World Cup final will be held at Doha’s Lusail Stadium. Credit:GettyA The FIFA World Cup in the Middle East is an admirable goal, but no sporting event can come at such a human cost. True, players, fans, sponsors, and broadcasters did not choose Qatar, but we are all obligated to hold the game to the highest standards of human endeavor. Our voice, or lack thereof, will determine the future of the sport for innocent people. Many of us are understandably conflicted. How do we deal with a situation in which we should not have been placed? Do we boycott, or do we use the event to highlight these issues? The coming month provides an opportunity to keep these issues on the international media agenda and advocate for systemic change across all of global sport. The most effective course of action is to educate ourselves on what has occurred, commit to football upholding human rights, and use our national and international platforms to effect change. Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker, both English broadcasters, have joined the #PayUpFIFA campaign. Credit:Getty Accordingly, I will broadcast the World Cup from Australia to elevate these issues and donate the entirety of my fee for the month to affected families of deceased migrant workers, migrant workers subjected to wage theft and organisations protecting the LGBTQ community and women’s rights in Qatar. I also support the #PayUpFIFA campaign for compensation of US$440 million ($660m) for affected families, equal to the player prizemoney pool and invite all other broadcasters around the world, many of whom are legendary players with the power to elevate the issue and mobilise millions of fans, to make their own donation. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and FairSquare have called on the 31 non-host federations for endorsement along with all 19 World Cup sponsors. Pleasingly, English football legends and broadcasters, Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer have joined the campaign. At this point, however, just four federations have enabled players to engage directly with relevant human rights organisations and only four sponsors — Adidas, McDonald’s, Anheuser-Busch and Coca-Cola — have expressed support. Loading An appalling response from the world’s largest sport. Human rights law should not be an afterthought or an aspiration but a non-negotiable in sport. World Cups power the growth of the game in countries like Australia, with all the accompanying social dividends, and football is a global language that brings us together to share lasting memories. This time, however, many thousands of families have only grief, debt and destitution to remember. That is why compensation must come before celebration. Every one of us is bound to act and silence is complicity. Craig Foster is Australia’s 40th international captain and a broadcaster, Adjunct Professor of Sport and Social Responsibility and human rights advocate. Watch the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League group stage matches on Stan Sport. Resumes Wednesday, October 5.
Sport must do more to help the migrant workers in Qatar
Sep-21 01:56 first published at 01:56 AM
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