Socceroos Call Out The Hypocrisy Of Hosting The World Cup In Qatar

They become the first World Cup team to make an official statement against the host country.

Socceroos Call Out The Hypocrisy Of Hosting The World Cup In Qatar

The Socceroos are heading to the FIFA World Cup in 2022 for just the sixth time. But before they jump on their plane for Qatar, the squad has spoken out against the country’s poor human rights record, with the hope being their words (and the world cup) can help incite change.

A select few members of the Socceroos squad have recorded a video statement highlighting their opinion of the situation regarding conditions for migrant workers in Qatar and the treatment of the LGBTI+ community.

WATCH: The Socceroos Take A Stand Against Qatar’s Human Rights Record

They have become the first World Cup team to post a protest against the host country.

Ever since Qatar was announced as the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the world’s eyes have been on the country, and it quickly became clear that conditions for the labour force hired were far from safe. The Guardian reported in 2021 that some 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since it won the right to host the biggest tournament in world sport, as the country had to essentially build entirely new infrastructure in order for it to be successful.

The Australian men’s soccer team do point out that the Kafala System, used by a number of Gulf Cooperation Council states has “largely been dismantled,” in Qatar, at least “working conditions have improved and a minimum wage has been established.” But, whilst these may be steps in the right direction, “their implementation remains inconsistent and requires improvement.”

The Kafala System has regularly been condemned by human rights campaigners, and has been likened to “slavery 2.0.” Under the system, migrant workers are required to be sponsored by their in-country employer, who then essentially assumes control of them.

The employee must seek approval from their employer to change jobs, leave the country and even other basic duties such as rent a home or get a driver’s license. In a lot of cases, employers would refuse to grant their employees permission to return to their home country, even after their employment contract had come to an end.

Another area of concern is Qatar’s stance on LGBT+ rights and the Socceroos maintain that the “decriminalisation of same sex relationships,” must occur in the country. Homosexuality is still deemed illegal in Qatar and comes with a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine.

Qatar has responded to criticism, especially in the wake of the World Cup, by saying everyone is welcome to visit the country, but they would have to refrain from any public displays of affection. Australian footballer Josh Cavallo, who is currently the only top-flight male footballer in the world to have come out as gay, feared for his safety ahead of the tournament if he were selected as part of the World Cup squad.

But, for all the awareness surrounding Qatar’s human rights record, even the Socceroos admit that actually “addressing these issues isn’t easy, and we don’t have all the answers.”

Boycotting the tournament may seem like an obvious approach – as many Australians on this Reddit thread suggest – but for a team such as Australia, not turning up to the World Cup, they probably won’t be missed.

Instead, Australia is using its fortunate platform to shine a light on the situation in Qatar and to raise awareness of the organisations that are making it their mission to improve things for everyone in the country.

Read Next