Qatar Claps Back At Socceroos Protest, Says ‘No Country Is Perfect’

"If somebody is claiming they are a perfect country they need to take a look at themselves."

Qatar Claps Back At Socceroos Protest, Says ‘No Country Is Perfect’

Image: Getty

What’s that they say about stones and glass houses? Qatar’s World Cup organising committee has responded to the Socceroos calling attention to how the host nation treats workers and the LGBTQI+ community. Is it mere deflection or do they have a point?

The Socceroos cautiously spoke out on Thursday, becoming the first team of the 32 competing in this year’s World Cup to draw attention to Qatar’s record of human rights abuses.

Sixteen members of the Australian national team spoke up in a video, sharing their concerns about Qatar’s human rights steamrolling and encouraging the host country to undergo more worker reforms (and to loosen up on same-sex relationships).

The video was supported by statements from Football Australia and Professional Footballers Australia. It quickly flashed across computer and smartphone screens all over the world. Now, a spokesperson for Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy has responded (in a similar fashion to how Qatar 2022 chief executive Nasser Al Khaterto responded to comments made by England’s Gareth Southgate back in March).

They said: “We commend footballers using their platforms to raise awareness for important matters.” Seems unlikely, but go off…

They continued with the corporate speak: “We have committed every effort to ensure that this World Cup has had a transformative impact on improving lives, especially for those involved in constructing the competition and non-competition venues we’re responsible for.”

“Protecting the health, safety, security, and dignity of every worker contributing to this World Cup is our priority.

“This is achieved through our commitment to holding contractors accountable via our worker welfare standards, continuous work on enhancing health and safety practices, creating and developing worker representation forums in collaboration with international unions and experts, robust auditing that includes an independent third party monitor, working with contractors to ensure workers who paid recruitment fees are entitled to repayment, and ensuring that these policies lead to a change in work culture that lasts far beyond 2022.”

“The Qatari government’s labour reforms are acknowledged by the ILO, ITUC, and numerous human rights organisations as the benchmark in the region.”

Things then got interesting, with the spokesperson saying: “New laws and reforms often take time to bed in, and robust implementation of labour laws is a global challenge, including in Australia.”

“No country is perfect, and every country – hosts of major events or not – has its challenges.”

It’s almost as if the spokesperson has been reading the satirical blog The Betoota Advocate…

“This World Cup has contributed to a legacy of progress, better practice, and improving lives – and it’s a legacy that will live long after the final ball is kicked,” the spokesperson added.

Whether you see this response as ‘whataboutism’ (and an inability to realise some things are worse than others) or whether you think they made a good point (and you are down with cultural relativism) we’ll leave up to you. In other news, the World Cup kicks off in just over three weeks.

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