How FIFA shut down Denmark’s protest against the Qatar World Cup

By Megan Haf Donoher


FIFA has rejected Denmark’s attempts to draw attention to human rights abuses at the Qatar World Cup.

The Danish Football Federtion (DBU) had asked if players could wear the shirts containing an explicit human rights message, but FIFA’s regulations prohibit all political messages on kits.

The team was intending to wear training kits with a critical message about the human rights in World Cup hosts Qatar. The Danish football federation (DBU) stated FIFA had forbidden the team from wearing the shirts, and instead should “focus on football.”

Last year, the DBU announced that their two training kit sponsors would make way for messages critical of Qatar. It was later agreed to replace the logo with ‘Human rights for all’.

Danish sportwear giants Hummel designed the kits to feature a toned-down logo and crest, with the black reflecting the “colour of mourning” which was intended to represent Qatar’s poor human rights.

When releasing the black third-choice design, the brand said: “While we support the Danish national team all the way, this shouldn’t be confuse with support for a tournament that has cost thousands of people their lives.”

The world football’s governing body is not a political organisation and prohibit all political messages during matches and tornaments. This viewpoint was made clear and was stated in a letter addressed to all participating nations at Qatar 2022. FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Secretary-General Fatma Samoura urged players not to let the tournament be an opportunity for teams to be “dragged into every ideological battle that exists.”

Jakob Jensen, the managing director of the DBU, told Danish agency Ritzau: “To me, this is a shirt with a simple message about universal human rights.”

However, it remains FIFA’s right as the organiser of the tournament to prohibit such behaviour.

FIFA declined to comment on the matter, but has stated time and time again that they take human rights incredibly seriously, adopting a human rights policy for the first time in 2017.

READ MORE: Qatar World Cup fanfare shows hypocrisy of the Western World

Amnesty International said: “We therefore believe that it is disappointing that they reject this basic human rights message.”

Domestically and internationally, Denmark is committed to protecting human rights and declare that it remains a constant work in progress.

Qatar has faced intense scrutiny over its human rights leading up to the World Cup, with a significant proportion of fans demanding that its utterly inapproprate. Ever since Qatar won the rights to host the World Cup in 2010, human rights organisations have criticized its treatment of foreign workers.

While FIFA makes huge profits, migrants are abused and exploited.

Approximately 30,000 foreign labourers were hired to build the stadiums for the tournaments. Ultimately, those working on the refurbishment of the showcase Khalifa Stadium are being subjected to forced labour, often waiting months to be paid.

READ MORE: Qatar’s World Cup is marred by death and devastation

Delayed salaries is just one breach of human working rights in Qatar, amongst appalling living conditions, threats, and not being allowed to leave the country or change jobs. The country has denied claims that workers were exploited despite Qatars extreme pressure over its treatment of foreign workers.

Despite the moral backlash and conflictions, the World Cup is expected to go ahead on November 20. Denmark are set to play their first game against Tunisia today.


Featured Image: Palacio do Planalto @ Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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