We are in dialogue with human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and also with FIFA, UEFA, other Member Associations and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, and we are working closely with all to ensure that we approach our participation in the upcoming FIFA World Cup in a socially responsible manner.
From those discussions to date, we believe that there is evidence of substantial progress being made by Qatar in relation to workers’ rights. However, we recognise there is still more to be done and that the positive steps made in legislation aren’t yet being implemented universally.
Our view remains that change is best achieved by working collaboratively with others so that we can continue to ask the right questions, while always being mindful that we also have our own human rights challenges in this country.
FA CEO Mark Bullingham is part of the UEFA Working Group, striving to better understand the current human rights landscape in Qatar. Being a member involves visiting the country and speaking to local authorities, migrant workers, charities and local organisations to understand their day-to-day experiences, including improvements, challenges and what more can be done to support and drive meaningful change. This working group has made a commitment to not only keep visiting Qatar before the FIFA World Cup, but to continue after that too.
We are clear that the companies we partner with on the ground in Qatar, both ahead of and during the tournament, must meet the required standards regarding workers’ rights and provide strong and rightful support to their employees.
We believe that our game is to be enjoyed and participated in by all, and we will always use our influence as a National Association to challenge hateful conduct both on and off the pitch in a respectful manner.
With this in mind, we have sought assurances from the Local Organising Committee regarding LGBTQ+ fans being welcomed in Qatar to support their team during the tournament.
We received the unequivocal answer that all fans, including those from LGBTQ+ communities, will be welcome at Qatar 2022, and that the safety and security of every fan is Qatar’s top priority.
The Local Organising Committee has informed us that local forces have undergone specific training and education on different cultures to ensure a discrimination-free environment. We will continue dialogue with local authorities on the ground to ensure this is the case, and as we did ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, we will hold forums for supporter groups nearer to the tournament.
Just as we would expect visitors to England to respect elements of our culture, when we visit other countries we recognise their differences and must strive to be sensitive to this and respectful.
As a legacy of the upcoming FIFA World Cup, we also see the opportunity for dialogue and engagement that can lead to real change beyond the borders of Qatar and into neighbouring countries in the region where there are also still some challenges regarding human rights.