GMB Union continues to staunchly support and champion workers’ rights, alongside all equality and diversity related matters, and condemns FIFA, Qatar and all those reaping the benefits of this blood-soaked tournament.
Beneath the glitz and glamour of FIFA and Qatar’s 2022 World Cup, an undercurrent of prejudice and hostility towards basic human rights and decency is omnipresent. From the several countries decisions to drop the One Love armband, to the hypocrite executives in charge of FIFA, this year’s tournament is gaining volumes of notoriety, but for all the wrong reasons.
Ever since Qatar was selected to host this year’s World Cup, a continuous stream of controversy has been pouring out from the not-so-shiny Jewel of Arabia. As a nation with a repugnant record on human and workers’ rights, and an appalling attitude towards equality and diversity, Qatar has faced enormous backlash from around the globe. Why the dysfunctional oligarchy was ever chosen in the first place remains a potent question on many people’s minds, with no strong ties to football or its history, and Qatari summers being so hot that they are a logistical nightmare for all outdoor sports; it is undeniable that the tournament has been on a downwards slope from its inception.
Beyond the fierce Qatari heat, many burning ethical dilemmas remain. Foremost, the abuse and exploitation suffered by our Nepalese comrades whilst preparing the emirate for the 2022 cup. These migrant labourers were treated as modern-day slaves, and according to documents obtained from the Nepalese embassy in Doha, at least 44 died between 4th June and 8th August. To put that in context, it is just shy of one casualty per day. In terms of cause, more than half died of heart attacks, heart failures or workplace accidents. GMB Union condemns the abhorrent conditions and appalling labour abuses deployed by those responsible and continues to fight for the best health and safety, terms and conditions for all workers.
As for the tournament itself, FIFA have pandered to their Al-Thani masters, and in a last-minute U-turn, supported a ban on players wearing the One Love armband. FIFA have gone as far as to threatened yellow cards to whoever breached what they deem kit regulations. Appallingly, the England squad among many others have kept their heads down and merely gone along with these orders. This decision has exposed many clubs as all talk but no action, who champion equality and diversity when it suits, but when the going gets tough, they turn a blind eye. Some might say participating nations are caught between a rock and hard place, nonetheless, if all teams shown solidarity, then this injustice would be very quickly resolved. Perhaps there is a glamour of hope as the German football association is taking FIFA to the Court of Arbitration for Sport over this ban. GMB Union encourages other associations to do the same and send a clear message to FIFA and Qatar that will echo across the world.
Last but certainly not least, GMB Union seeks to expose the insulting and cowardly hypocrisy of FIFA. No amount of #UnitetheWorld hashtags will offer any reassurance to LGBTQ+ fans who were already concerned for their safety and wellbeing in a country where homosexuality is illegal and viciously punished. By forbidding players from wearing the One Love armbands, FIFA has made clear that when faced with the choice of making obscene amounts of money or supporting the very fans who are the bedrock of their organisation, they will go with the former, and ditch even the most basic level of support.
In conclusion, GMB Union continues to staunchly support and champion workers’ rights, alongside all equality and diversity related matters, and condemns FIFA, Qatar and all those reaping the benefits of this blood-soaked tournament. Despite those in charge best efforts to force fans to sit back, relax and enjoy the World Cup without question, many have rightly shown bravery through defiance; our message to you is simple: keep on keeping on!
Neil Smith, Political Officer
Written and edited by Shaun Nash