Dutch FA keep Qatar human rights issues on the ‘change’ agenda

October 8 – Ahead of the Netherlands’ World Cup qualifiers against both Latvia and Gibraltar, the Dutch FA (KNVB) is accelerating its ‘Football supports change’ campaign, which seeks to achieve sustainable change for labour migrants in Qatar.

In August, a Dutch delegation visited the host nation for the 2022 World Cup finals and engaged with the International Labor Organization (ILO), Builders and Woodworkers International (BWI), National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) and the Dutch ambassador in Doha as well migrant workers living near the Ras Abu Aboud stadium. The Dutch FA notes “that progress had been made”.

“Certainly compared to the region there,” said KNVB secretary-general Gijs De Jong. “That has everything to do with the World Cup. The challenge is that all the new laws have to be complied with everywhere, so there is and remains a lot of work to be done.”

Last February, a Guardian newspaper report highlighted that more than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar since it won the right to host the World Cup in 2011. Not all the workers were working on World Cup stadia but a large majority were working on construction and infrastructure projects. Across Europe, high-profile national teams protested the situation, leading to increased pressure on the World Cup hosts.

The KNVB is part of the UEFA task force, which together with FIFA, is monitoring the situation in Qatar. The task force recommended last month that FAs engage only with local companies that respect minimum standards.  Earlier this week, the Dutch ambassador to Doha updated the KNVB on the latest developments. In the next few weeks, the Dutch FA wants to engage with fans and politicians to open a wider debate.

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