Australia have become the first World Cup team to collectively criticise Qatar’s human rights record.
In a video on social media, 16 players, including former Arsenal goalkeeper Mat Ryan, took aim at the host nation’s treatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQ+ community.
Football Australia also released a statement saying the “suffering” felt by workers during stadium construction “cannot be ignored”.
In their video, Australia players acknowledged some reforms, such as the abolition of the ‘kafala’ system — which enabled employers to take away workers’ passports and block them from leaving the country. But they said these do not go far enough.
Individual players have spoken out on human rights issues in Qatar, but this is the first time a collective voice has been heard in the build-up to the tournament, which begins on November 20.
“There are universal values that should define football values such as respect, dignity, trust and courage,” the players said. “When we represent our nation, we aspire to embody these values.
“Addressing these issues is not easy. And we do not have all the answers. We stand with Fifpro, the Building and Wood Workers’ International and the International Trade Union Confederation seeking to embed reforms and establish a lasting legacy in Qatar.
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