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FIFA urges World Cup teams to ‘focus on football’ in Qatar

FIFA calls on participating nations to reserve judgment on protests over LGBTQ issues and migrant workers’ rights.

International football’s governing body sent a letter to the 32 World Cup teams, urging them to “focus on football” in Qatar and not let the sport “get dragged into all the ideological or political battles out there”.

The letter from FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Secretary General Fatma Samoura follows a series of protests by World Cup teams on issues ranging from LGBTQ rights to concerns about the treatment of migrant workers, who have been vital in the construction of the World Cup facilities.

“At FIFA we try to respect all opinions and beliefs without giving moral lessons to the rest of the world,” Infantino and Samoura wrote. “Please, let’s focus on football now!”

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In February 2021, The Guardian newspaper reported that 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died in the country since 2010, when Qatar won the World Cup.

The Qatari government has stated that these figures, provided by the respective countries’ embassies, include deaths of people not working on World Cup projects. He said: “The mortality rate among these communities is within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population.”

The government said there were 37 deaths between 2014 and 2020 among workers directly linked to the construction of World Cup stadiums, of which three were “work-related”.

Denmark recently announced that its players would wear a “toned down” kit during the World Cup, with Danish manufacturer Hummel saying it “doesn’t want to be visible” at a tournament that “has cost thousands of lives”.

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“We support the Danish team, but that is not the same as supporting Qatar as the host nation,” he said.

Khaled al-Suwaidi, a senior member of the Qatar World Cup organizing committee, responded to Denmark’s announcement, saying the country has used the World Cup “as a catalyst to drive change” and has reformed its labor laws. immigrants.

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The Australian national team recently released a video criticizing Qatar for its human rights record and calling for the decriminalization of same-sex relationships, which are strictly prohibited in Qatar.

Tournament organizers praised Australian players for “using their platforms to raise awareness of important issues”. Still, they added, “No country is perfect, and all countries, major event hosts or not, have their challenges.”

The captains of nine teams will wear rainbow armbands to support the LGBTQ community.

World Cup organizers have said that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or background, is welcome and they also caution against public displays of affection.

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Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp recently stated that he believed it was “not fair” to expect players to make political statements. “The decision [to hold the tournament in Qatar] it was made by other people, and if you want to criticize someone, criticize the people who made the decision,” he said.

In a recent television interview, German sports minister Nancy Faeser appeared to question whether Qatar should host the tournament due to alleged mistreatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQ community.

He later said his comments had been “misunderstood”, adding: “It is important to support the country of Qatar in innovative reforms.”

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