Calls made for Scotland versus Qatar football match to be scrapped

Web qatar world cup construction stadium

Campaigners highlight “appalling labour abuse” in Qatar

Paul Cardwell's photo

2nd June 2015 by Paul Cardwell 1 Comment

Calls have been made for a football match in Edinburgh involving the Scotland and Qatar national teams to be scrapped due to extreme human rights abuses in the Arabic country.

Scotland are due to host Qatar at Easter Road on Friday but a motion has been made in the Scottish Parliament calling for the match to be cancelled, fans groups have urged boycotts and the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) is calling on the Scottish Football Association (SFA) to, at the very least, speak out about the reported “appalling labour abuse” that is happening in Qatar.

Reports by the International Trade Union Confederation claim a shocking number of workers have been killed in Qatar while constructing football stadiums and other infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup due to a complete lack of health and safety on worksites.

Since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar it reports that workers have been dying at a rate of 40 per month with the total number of fatalities now around 1,400 and likely to be more than 4000 when the World Cup is finally staged.

Pictures from Australian news network ABC have also shocked the world – exposing the squalid conditions workers, most of whom are migrants from south east Asia and are unable to change employer or leave Qatar without their employer’s consent due to the country’s visa laws, are forced to live in.

The situation in Qatar cannot go on. If the match on Friday was a World Cup 2022 game 62 workers would have died to stage it.

It photographed filthy hostels without electricity or proper sewerage systems which are home to up to 300 men sharing just 20 rooms.

STUC general secretary Grahame Smith called on the SFA to use the opportunity of the game with Qatar to make representations to the Qatari authorities and urged them to make a public statement regarding their concerns.

The STUC will join with the Scottish Football Supporters Association and Playfair Qatar on Friday to leaflet outside the stadium to raise awareness of the situation that workers are facing in Qatar and to ask FIFA and the SFA to take action.

Smith said: “Football should be a force for good in the world; instead we are seeing the beautiful game marred by controversy and corruption.

“The situation in Qatar cannot go on. If the match on Friday was a World Cup 2022 game 62 workers would have died to stage it.”

Andrew Jenkin, head of fans group Supporters Direct, added: “What’s going on in Qatar is not acceptable and football could be the perfect avenue for us to express that in Scotland, we will not stand for it.”

Yesterday, Labour MSP Neil Findlay lodged a motion for the Scottish Parliament to ask the SFA to cancel the match.

It calls for the “SFA to send the strongest possible message to the Qatari authorities that Scotland finds the current plight of construction workers unacceptable and cancel the forthcoming friendly”.

A statement from the SFA said: “As noted recently by Amnesty International, it is important that universal reach of football can be used in a positive manner to highlight inequalities and be a force for good.

“None the less, we are also cognisant of disturbing reports on the conditions experienced by migrant workers involved in the building of stadia for the forthcoming FIFA World Cup in 2022.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Scottish FA condemns any behaviour that compromises human rights and, in conjunction with the Scottish Government, we have already stated our joint offer to provide practical support.

“We have been in contact with Amnesty International to outline our position and to ensure positive and productive dialogue in the lead-up to the Qatar match and beyond.”

3rd June 2015 by Douglas J A Roxburgh. MBE

There are many ways we can effectively raise the awareness of the living and working conditions on migrant workers and the Human Rights record in Qatar. All to be condemned and rightly so. However, we need to be thoughtful in putting these scenarios into a context and perspective that is balanced and recognises the inconsistencies in working practices, exploitation of some of our own migrant workforce. The construction of the Aberdeen bypass being one current example. Supporting our team in this game is just that. Also, we who are going can utilise this opportunity to support those raising the awareness of Qatarian workers. Finally it is my understanding and I could be misinformed that the SFA are contributing proceeds from this game to aid the ' practical support ' mentioned above. Whilst I think the SFA need to look at themselves in every quarter following confirmation of FIFA's situation, here they are attempting to balance their response, they will be damned if they do and don't.