The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is still a month away, but the international tournament is already sparking protests against the host nation’s alleged human rights violations.
London has decided to boycott this year’s World Cup by not hosting any “fan-zones” or public screenings of the matches. However, there will still be plenty of private viewing parties, as Bloomberg reported.
The mayor’s office said the city’s boycott is rooted in human rights abuse allegations against Qatar.
“The mayor has been clear in his repeated condemnation of Qatar’s human rights record, but believes that fans in London should not be denied the opportunity to watch and support England and other teams in this year’s World Cup,” a spokesperson for the mayor said, Bloomberg reported.
French cities protest human rights abuse in Qatar
London’s decision comes on the heels of similar decisions made in Paris and several other French cities. The cities previously announced they will not screen matches in public places because of human rights and environmental concerns, The Guardian reported.
“This competition has gradually turned into a human and environmental disaster, incompatible with the values we want to see conveyed through sport and especially football,” Marseille’s mayor, Benoît Payan, said in a statement, according to the Guardian.
The boycott movement started on Oct. 1 with Lille. The mayor of Lille, Martine Aubry, called this year’s World Cup “nonsense in terms of human rights, the environment and sport,” according to the BBC.
Jeanne Barseghian, the mayor of Strasbourg, said the city cannot condone Qatar’s human rights violations by hosting screenings of the matches, The Guardian reported.
“It is impossible for us not to listen to the numerous alerts from NGOs denouncing the abuse and exploitation of immigrant workers. Thousands of foreign workers have died on the building sites, it’s unbearable,” Barseghian told the French newspaper 20 Minutes, per the Guardian.
In 2021, the Guardian reported that 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka died in Qatar in the decade since the country was awarded the World Cup in 2010. They found that 37 of those deaths were directly linked to World Cup construction projects, but only three of them were designated as “work-related.”
The International Labour Organization believes that number underestimates the total number of World Cup-related deaths because Qatar doesn’t classify deaths from heart attacks and respiratory failure, which are symptoms of heatstroke that can be brought on from working long hours in severe heat, as “work-related” deaths, according to BBC.
Teams protest discrimination in Qatar
World Cup teams have decided to launch their own protests against the tournament’s host nation.
With acts of homosexuality being illegal in Qatar, eight of the 32 teams playing in the World Cup have chosen to promote inclusion by petitioning FIFA to allow them to wear “OneLove” armbands with a rainbow heart.
Teams are required to use equipment, including armbands, provided by FIFA. The soccer governing body has yet to grant permission for the teams to wear the “OneLove” armband.
“OneLove” originated in the Netherlands, but other countries, including England, France and Germany, have joined the campaign. England is prepared to have its captain Harry Kane wear the armband with or without FIFA’s permission, according to The Associated Press.
“As captains, we may all be competing against each other on the pitch, but we stand together against all forms of discrimination,” Kane said in a statement, per AP. “This is even more relevant at a time when division is common in society. Wearing the armband together on behalf of our teams will send a clear message when the world is watching.”