Last week, FIFA’s President praised Qatar’s labour reforms and said that a “strong commitment” to ensure the effectiveness of those efforts is being exhibited by Qatar.
Head Coach of the Netherlands national football team has accused FIFA of taking the tournament to Qatar for “money” and “commercial” purposes and that is “the only thing that matters to FIFA.”
Louis van Gaal, also the Dutch association football manager, said that it is “ridiculous” that the FIFA World Cup 2022 is being unraveled in the Gulf country.
“We will be playing in a country where FIFA say we are going to help develop football” he said, addressing a news conference, according to Reuters.
Louis van Gaal: "It's ridiculous that the World Cup is being hosted in Qatar. FIFA says they want to 'develop football in Qatar'. Well, that's bullsh*t. It's about money and commercial interests. That's the only thing that matters for FIFA." pic.twitter.com/A49l4F3Mom
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) March 22, 2022
Van Gaal believes that the world football governing body’s reason for awarding Qatar the tournament in 2010 was drenched in “spurious” intentions.
The 70 year-old coach said he is part of a commission within the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) which gathers on a monthly basis to evaluate the ongoing situation in Qatar centered around human rights.
The KNVB has “always” been critical of the labour rights and working conditions in Qatar, however it was especially underlined in 2021.
The football entity has “never been in favour of holding the World Cup in Qatar and of course certainly doesn’t approve of the way in which migrant workers are treated there,” it said in a statement last year following a visit to the host country.
However, these remarks come following the recent inspection visit of a delegation from the KNVB to Qatar in February, where the team praised Qatar’s World Cup 2022 facilities and felt “positive” upon returning from their trip back to Netherlands.
During their visit, the Dutch members approved the St. Regis Hotel in Doha as an accommodation for their football team, in addition to two football fields in Qatar University as their designated training venues.
FIFA President ‘pleased’ with progress in Qatar’s labour reforms
“We were there to assess and make decisions about the facilities for our players, their staff, our fans, our partners, and our employees. The enabling conditions must be optimal; with top priority given to the team’s hotel and training accommodation, guest house, training facilities, catering, and logistics.”
The hypocrisy is further highlighted as the Dutch football federation’s previous claims point out their concerns over the “harsh temperatures” of Qatar.
Qatar has been placed under international scrutiny over its treatment of migrant workers ever since it won the rights to host the first FIFA World Cup event in the Middle East.
Despite the country’s progress in the migrant worker conditions field in the past years, the media has continued to portray Qatar ‘negatively’ by releasing reports on labour welfare in the Gulf country. This has saw the onset of several calls for boycott, with Norway initiating the movement.
Amongst those who joined the boycott wave were the Netherlands and Germany, both of which decided not to follow through with their claims.
The Dutch football team went as far as wearing shirts that read “Football supports change” in March of 2021 as a testament to their supposed stance against Qatar’s human rights track record ahead of the World Cup.
KNVB told Doha News last year that it was never in “favour” of the Qatari bid for the 2022 edition of the World Cup due to its “lack of football history and harsh temperatures.”
Not standing by their firm positions, KNVB later stated that it does not believe that a boycott will help.
“If you want to help improve the situation, you go there and raise awareness,” KNVB told Doha News. “Boycott does not help the people working there.”
Hans-Dieter Flick, manager of the Germany national team, expressed his ‘unsettling’ feeling with the World Cup being played in Qatar and believes there should be a more robust criteria put in place for future hosts of global sporting events.
“It can’t always be about the money,” Flick told German magazine Stern. “We recently had a World Cup in Russia, the Winter Olympics in Beijing, and the World Cup in Qatar in November – and there was always great criticism.”
“That’s why I say we have to think about the country in which we are going to hold sporting events sooner and define even more binding criteria for this,” he added.
Flick, also, questioned the potential “benefits” of boycotting World Cup 2022 and noted “It wouldn’t help the people in Qatar, we want to take part and then send out signals. I think that’s more effective.”
“For many athletes a World Cup is a career highlight. That would be taken away from them with a boycott.”
The 57-year-old, however, believes the full-scale invasion in Ukraine provides sufficient grounds for Russia to be banned from the sporting competition.