Despite previous calls for boycott, the Dutch Football Association is ‘ready’ to participate in the 2021 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The visit took place earlier this month to guarantee venues and facilities are ready to host the football team upon their visit, in addition to ensuring the country is providing ‘fair’ conditions to migrant workers.
The delegation included a team from the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB), led by Secretary-General Gijs de Jong. During their visit, the sports officials approved the Regis Hotel in Doha as an accommodation for the football team, in addition to two football fields in Qatar University as training venues.
“We’re feeling positive as we return to the Netherlands”, said de Jong, who visited Qatar several times in the last year, adding that the recent visit was mainly focused on football and the facilities to be chosen.
“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.”
Part of the visit also focused on ensuring the parties working with KNVB provide a safe working environment and fair and equal treatment for their workers, a process known to be ‘as rigorous as possible.’ For that reason, the delegation met several times with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to ensure all protocols were met.
“All our conditions will be met during our stay, both in terms of top-class sport and based on our requirement that our hotel and training accommodation needs to be ‘clean’ in terms of the working and living conditions of the migrant workers there,” de Jong added. “The minimum wage is guaranteed and is higher than in neighbouring countries. There are also electronic checks that assess whether payments have been made correctly.”
Ever since Qatar won the bid to host the global sporting event, western media have been focused on the country’s migrant rights’ issues, slandering the country’s every move despite major reforms.
Despite the Gulf nation’s progress with regards to migrant worker conditions in the past years, the media have continued to release reports with what Qatari authorities slammed as “sensationalised” headlines. This has triggered several calls for boycott, with Norway starting the calls.
Last year, a number of football clubs in the European nation urged the country’s football federation to pull out of next year’s tournament in Qatar. Several countries later joined the call across Europe, including The Netherlands and Germany.
Echoing the calls, the Dutch men’s football team wore T-shirts reading “Football supports change” in March of 2021 as a statement against Qatar’s human rights track record ahead of the World Cup.
The team stated that “Qatar is where we’d like to become world champions. But not without looking outside the box. That’s why we use our football for a change.”
The same month, the Dutch football federation told Doha News 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”.
However, despite smear campaigns and Qatar 2022 boycott calls, none of the countries stood by their previous 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.”
The team’s coach Frank de Boer said also revealed shortly after the calls that they were advised by internationally renowned human rights groups to go ahead with the tournament after talks with rights organisations.
“Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have said that if we go there, we can better promote the cause,” de Boer said.
Consequently, at the end of 2021, Dutch football federation KNVB confirmed it will not be boycotting the 2022 Qatar World Cup but will instead “attend to raise awareness” about alleged human rights violations in the Gulf state.
Experts have raised questions regarding the motivations behind the boycott calls attempts given the lack of similar action in other host countries with human rights violations of their own, such as Brazil and Russia.
Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup, which served as an open door for several outlets and officials to criticize the region without doing the same for other countries.
Previously, FIFA came forward to defend Qatar, stating that the tournament can open the door to social improvement, which has been proven through a series of historic labour reforms revealed earlier this year.