Initiatives to denounce the situation of migrant workers in Qatar have been increasing in recent weeks in the small world of football, the emirate due to host the World Cup in 2022. On Saturday March 27 in Amsterdam, it was the players of the Netherlands team who carried out a symbolic action before the qualifying match for this World Cup between them against Latvia: the Oranje entered the lawn of the Johan Cruyff Arena dressed a black T-shirt with the mention “Football supports CHANGE” (“Football supports change”).
The teams from Norway and Germany had already made gestures of protest in their respective qualifying matches, in both cases wearing T-shirts with human rights messages.
It is the publication, on February 23, of a investigation of Guardian which is the basis of this movement: the British daily reported that at least 6,500 migrant workers, mostly working on sites linked to the 2022 World Cup, have been killed in Qatar since the country obtained it in December 2010 , the organization of the tournament. The emirate claims to have done more than any other country in the region to improve the working conditions of migrant workers.
“We know that the workers who build the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup are working under very difficult conditions. We cannot remain indifferent to it and do nothing ”, Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt said on Saturday. “In the coming weeks, we will also be working with actors and unions [de joueurs] other countries to consider joint actions ”, continued the Juventus player.
His compatriot Memphis Depay is on the same line: “As footballers our voice must be heard. It will be more effective through collective action bringing together several countries rather than acting individually ”, Olympique Lyonnais striker told ANP news agency. In addition, at each upcoming meeting, the captain of the Netherlands will wear a black armband with the same mention in favor of human rights.
The call for a boycott is not unanimous
The Dutch branch of Amnesty International has congratulated the players for their initiative, but is asking for more. “It’s a good start, guys. But more is needed. At the FIF [Fédération internationale de football], they must do more to combat the exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar ”, Amnesty International wrote on Twitter.
The Dutch Federation (KNVB) stressed that it had never been in favor of holding a World Cup in Qatar, according to the ANP. However, it does not envisage a possible boycott, as has been proposed in particular by certain Norwegian clubs.
While supporting the demonstration of the national team, the German Football Association also said on Friday, opposed to a boycott of the World Cup. Player Joshua Kimmich also rules out this option, explaining that such a call for a boycott is coming. “Ten years too late”.
“The 2022 World Cup has not been awarded this year, but a few years ago. We should have thought of the boycott at the time ”, he explained, inviting however to “Seize this opportunity to educate people” and to broaden the mobilization beyond football: “We all have to work together. “ The German government has also shown solidarity with the players’ action, saying it reflects their attachment to democratic values.