Australia becomes the first FIFA World Cup country to slam Qatar for its human rights record
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Many questions have been raised about the implications of human rights with the tournament taking place in the Middle Eastern country, but the Australian national football team has finally broken their silence.
A group of 16 players released a collective statement as they believe the suffering of migrant workers and same-sex couples ‘cannot be ignored’.
The players said in their video address: “As PFA members, we understand the power of collective bargaining and the fundamental rights of all workers to form and join a union.
“Before players had won these rights their careers in Australia were characterised by the absence of respect and dignity.
“It is for these reasons we must speak about the situation in Qatar.”
While the players acknowledged that there had been some change, such as ‘The Kafala System being largely dismantled', and minimum wage being established, these regulations are ‘inconsistent and require improvement’.
They added: “We have learned the decision to host the World Cup in Qatar has resulted in the suffering and harm of countless of our fellow workers.”
Migrant workers have faced poor working conditions in the manufacturing of infrastructure and stadiums for the tournament, with The Guardian reporting at least 6,500 worker deaths as of February 2021.
The players also called out Qatar's controversial discriminatory policy around queer people.
They said: “As players we support the rights of the LGBTQ+ community but in Qatar, people are not free to love the person that they choose.”
The video concluded with the players demanding a migrant resource centre be established for those denied worker rights while calling for the decriminalisation of same-sex relationships.
The address was also followed up by a statement by Football Australia, who said they take pride in Australian sport being ‘multi-cultural, diverse, and inclusive’.
The statement read: “We acknowledge the significant progress and legislative reforms have occurred in Qatar over recent years to recognise and protect the rights of workers, and we encourage all stakeholders to continue this path to reform.
“However, we have also learned that the tournament has been associated with suffering for some migrant workers and their families.”
It added: “Football Australia has also been working closely with LGBTI+ communities to continue strengthening our inclusive and welcoming environment in our game throughout Australia.”
While Australia is the first country to officially speak out about the human rights issues in Qatar, other countries have also planned protests.
Time News reported that European countries will wear ‘One Love’ armbands to protest the Middle Eastern country’s same-sex laws.