Australia have issued a collective statement against Qatar’s human rights record, becoming the first team at the 2022 World Cup to do so.
The video message criticizes the World Cup hosts’ treatment of migrant workers and LGBTQ+ people.
Football Australia also released a statement saying the “suffering” felt by workers and their families caused by the tournament “cannot be ignored”.
Australia will play in the tournament in Qatar, which begins on November 20.
The videowhich has 16 actors, calls for an “effective remedy” for migrant workers and the decriminalization of homosexual relations.
The 16 Australian players involved in the video include captain Mat Ryan, Sunderland defender Bailey Wright, Hearts’ Kye Rowles and Alex Wilkinson, the president of the Professional Footballers Australia players’ union who last represented the Socceroos in 2015.
“Fixing these issues isn’t easy, and we don’t have all the answers,” the players said.
“We stand with FIFPro, Building and Woodworkers International and the International Trade Union Confederation, seeking to anchor reforms and establish a lasting legacy in Qatar.
“This must include the creation of a resource center for migrants, an effective remedy for those who have been deprived of their rights and the decriminalization of all same-sex relationships.
“These are the fundamental rights that should be granted to all and will ensure continued progress in Qatar and a legacy that goes far beyond the final whistle of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”
In the message, the players acknowledged some reforms such as the abolition of the “kafala” system – which allowed employers to withdraw workers’ passports and prevent them from leaving the country – but said these were being implemented. inconsistently and do not go far enough.
“Everyone should feel safe”
Football Australia’s statement also refers to Qatar’s laws on LGBTQ+ relationships. Homosexuality can be punished by death in the Gulf state, with comments from British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly that gay fans participating in the tournament should show “flexibility and compromise” being criticized.
Adelaide United defender Joshua Cavallo, the only currently active male footballer to be gay, has a cap for Australia’s Under-20s.
“As our nation’s most multicultural, diverse and inclusive sport, we believe everyone should be able to feel safe and be authentic,” the statement read.
“While we acknowledge the highest levels of assurance given by His Highness the Amir of Qatar and the President of Fifa that LGBTI+ fans will be welcomed safely to Qatar, we hope that this openness can continue in- beyond the tournament.
It is one of the most notable displays of criticism by any of the teams taking part in the World Cup, with the decision to host the tournament in Qatar having been heavily criticized since Fifa announced it in 2010.
Human rights groups have complained about the treatment of foreign workers in Qatar and the number of people who have died there.
In February 2021, the Guardian said 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died in Qatar since it won its World Cup bid.
The number is based on figures provided by the countries’ embassies in Qatar.
However, the Qatari government said the total was misleading as not all of the deaths recorded were of people working on World Cup-related projects.
The government said its accident records showed that between 2014 and 2020 there had been 37 fatalities among workers on World Cup stadium construction sites, of which only three were “work-related”.
Australia are in Group D alongside world champions France, Denmark and Tunisia.
Opponents of the Danish group also demonstrated against human rights abuses in the Middle Eastern state by wearing a “dimmed down” shirt for the World Cup.
Players from nine European countries, including England, will wear “One Love” armbands to protest Qatar’s same-sex laws.