Qatar has introduced sweeping labour reforms in recent years.
Former Germany and Bayern Munich Captain Philipp Lahm announced plans to boycott the 2022 Qatar World Cup, triggering backlash online.
Speaking to the Kicker, a German sports magazine, Lahm criticised Qatar for its human rights record.
“Human rights should play the biggest role in the awarding of a tournament…That shouldn’t happen again in the future. Human rights, sustainability, the size of the country, none of that seems to have played a role,” Lahm said.
Social media users on Twitter flooded Lahm’s reported statement by calling it hypocritical, citing the western criticism of Qatar as unfair.
Regarding Lahm’s statement, Qatari sports reporter Mohammed Alkaabi, tweeted out, “Who told you to come?”
Qatar has faced international scrutiny by the west over the situation of its migrant workers and lack of laws to protect them. However, the Gulf state has introduced historic reform in an effort to ensure the rights of workers are respected.
Those reforms include terminating the Kafala System, introducing a minimum wage law, and an open-ended platform allowing employers of all industries to submit complaints against the labour law.
Doha has also been working closely with the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) along with other international bodies that have assisted it in improving the local work environments.
Recently, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani addressed the issue for the first time, calling protests against the country’s hosting of the World Cup as prejudiced.
“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 at the World Economic Forum earlier this year.
“These individuals, including many in positions of influence, have launched attacks at a pace never seen before when a mega-sporting event was hosted by other countries on different continents,” said the amir, noting that those countries have their own set of issues and challenges.
Despite the major changes, western media outlets have repeatedly released reports with what Qatari authorities have described as sensationalised headlines. Rights groups such as Amnesty have also stated that employers have appeared to find loopholes into the law, calling on authorities to further implement the new regulations.
“[Qatar is] constantly trying to improve, and full of hope, for a brighter future. We are so proud of the development, reform, and progress we have made, and we are grateful for the spotlight that the World Cup provided,” said the amir.
Sheikh Tamim added that the World Cup has enabled Qatar inspired the latest labour law changes “at lightening-speed.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has also defended Qatar on multiple fronts, pointing to the country’s moves to address criticism by implementing change.
“It took us in Europe hundreds of years to arrive where we are now…in this part of the world, in Qatar, it has been done in a few years, so it’s clear that at the beginning we need some time to assess it,” Infantino said.