Belgians add voice to protests calling for change in Qatar and action against racism

March 31 – The world’s number one team Belgium wore t-shirts on Tuesday in support of migrant workers involved in building 2022 World Cup stadiums in Qatar, following other European sides in protesting for improved human rights in the Gulf state.

Ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifier with Belarus in Leuven, a second-string team wore t-shirts with the slogan ‘Football supports change’, mirroring the message of the Dutch national team in their games.

Those words could still have been interpreted as ambiguous, but on Twitter the Belgian Red Devils wrote: “We actively stand up against racism and are not ignoring the problems in Qatar. With this symbolic action, we call upon international bodies and all football federations to join us in stepping up.”

“We demand stronger action to improve working conditions and human rights in Qatar. Football has the power to create positive change, let’s use that power now!”

In a recent news conference, Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said that boycotting the Qatar World Cup was not the right action to support migrant workers, and felt that the power of football could be used to bring about change. Previously, the CEO of the Belgian FA (KBVB) had echoed a similar opinion, but his words backfired.

He said: “A boycott is not appropriate. The biggest victims are the guest workers themselves. Now working conditions are improving, with a boycott the workers would be sent back to their country of origin and lose important income. So a boycott is not the right solution.”

Belgium follow in the footsteps of not only Holland but also Germany, Denmark and Norway, who all staged recent protests. Last month, a study released by the Guardian reported that at least 6,500 migrant workers have died since Qatar was named as the chosen 2022 World Cup host a decade ago.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1618090776labto1618090776ofdlr1618090776owedi1618090776sni@o1618090776fni1618090776