The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy has responded to the “protest kits”
Denmark’s national team kit supplier has announced “toned down” jerseys at the World Cup to protest Qatar’s human rights record and support migrant workers in the Gulf state, prompting a stern response by authorities in Doha.
“We don’t wish to be visible during a tournament that has cost thousands of people their lives. We support the Danish national team all the way, but that isn’t the same as supporting Qatar as a host nation,” kit manufacturer Hummel announced in a statement on Wednesday.
The third kit, which is all-black, symbolises the “colour of mourning”, the statement said. The Denmark badge has also been “toned down” on the other two kits: a simple maroon home shirt and an all-white away jersey.
Sponsors of Denmark’s training kit will also remove their logos to allegedly make room for criticism of Qatar, though it is unclear what will be added and whether this would be allowed by FIFA.
Hummel’s statement claims the Danes do not wish to be visible in a tournament that “has cost thousands of lives” – appearing to cite a misleading Guardian report that incorrectly linked deaths of South Asian expats in the Gulf state to the World Cup.
Qatar officials have previously disputed the figures on the death of migrant workers working on World Cup facilities, saying the actual total figure at the time in 2021 was 37, and only three of which were “work-related”.
In a statement sent to Doha News responding to the most recent act of protest by Denmark, World Cup authorities echoed the same comments.
“We dispute Hummel’s claim that this tournament has cost thousands of people their lives. Furthermore, we whole-heartedly reject the trivialising of our genuine commitment to protect the health and safety of the 30,000 workers who built FIFA World Cup™️ stadiums and other tournament projects. That same commitment now extends to 150,000 workers across various tournament services and 40,000 workers in the hospitality sector,” the statement read.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy also pointed towards various dialogue between the body and the Danish Football Association(DBU) in collaboration with the UEFA Working Group and various other platforms led by FIFA, which resulted in “better understanding of the progress made, the challenges encountered, and the legacy we will leave after 2022.
“The onus should always be on countries to do more to protect the rights of peoples all over the world, “including in Denmark. The SC’s work is recognised by numerous entities within the international human rights community as a model that has accelerated progress and improved lives.
“Qatar’s reforms are acknowledged by the ILO and ITUC as a benchmark in the region. Like every country, progress on these issues is a journey without a finish line, and Qatar is committed to that journey.”
The statement also urged the DBU to “accurately convey to Hummel the outcome of their extensive communication and work with the [committee]”.
The World Cup body also noted its “commitment to this legacy has contributed to significant reforms to the labour system enacting laws protecting the rights of workers and ensuring improved living conditions for them.”
Qatar has been placed under international scrutiny over its treatment of migrant workers ever since it won the bid to host the first FIFA World Cup event in the Middle East.
One such report was published by The Guardian in February 2021, headlined, “Revealed: 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar as it gears up for World Cup” in which it linked the “shocking” death rate to the start of the World Cup journey a decade ago.
However, the report failed to clarify the reasons behind the deaths and was also dismissed by Qatar as “baseless.”
This saw the onset of several calls for boycott, with Norway initiating the movement in Europe. Among those who joined calls for boycott were the Netherlands and Germany, both of which decided not to follow through with their claims.
Only slightly more than a third of qualified nations have held appropriate talks with human rights organisations concerning this World Cup, and only four of those have allowed such bodies to speak directly to players.
England, alongside nine other European nations, recently announced it will support a new ‘One Love’ campaign promoting ‘inclusion and equality’ at this year’s World Cup in Qatar.
The initiative, created by the Netherlands, will also be supported by Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales, aiming to “send a message against discrimination of any kind as the eyes of the world fall on the global game,” the English Football Association (FA) said in a statement earlier this month.
In May, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani took aim at the unfair criticism of the Gulf state by the west over its hosting of the 2022 World Cup.
This came during his speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, in which the amir tapped into attacks launched against the Gulf state for being the first in the Middle East to host the major sporting event.
“For decades now, the Middle East has suffered, from discrimination. And I have found that such discrimination is largely based on people not knowing us, and in some cases, refusing to get to know us,” said Sheikh Tamim.
Analysts say a lot of the criticism that Qatar receives is not fuelled by the demand for positive change, and is instead filled with racist and Islamophobic undertones.
“Mega-event hosting should ultimately be an egalitarian phenomenon – all countries are entitled to stage football’s World Cups. However, as concerns about nations such as Qatar playing host to these tournaments are expressed, it does rather play into the stereotypes and tropes associated with Qataris, Arabs and Muslims,” Simon Chadwick, Professor of Sport and Geopolitical Economy at SKEMA Business School in Paris, told Doha News.
Over the past few years, Qatar has seen a number of labour reforms. In 2021, authorities introduced the region’s first ever non-discriminatory minimum wage law.
Additionally, Qatar approved two key laws in August 2020 to eliminate barriers on migrant workers leaving the country and changing jobs without permission from their employers.
“Whenever a country hosts the World Cup, it will be scrutinised, often in unfair, possibly damaging ways. As a country, you can either respond and make changes or you remain resolute in accentuating who you and deal with the consequences of this,” Chadwick added.
Despite the progress made, violations have continued in the Gulf state.
Recently, sixty workers were arrested after taking to the streets to protest six months of unpaid work in Qatar, according to Migrant Rights.
A number of protesters were also deported from the Gulf state for taking part in the demonstration, described by authorities as a breach of public security laws.
“A number of protesters were detained for breaching public security laws. As this remains an ongoing investigation, details on individual cases cannot be disclosed,” a Qatari government official said in a statement sent to Doha News at the time.