Human rights abuses: has our little campaign had unexpected support?

By Tony Attwood

Tony Attwood is a member of Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association and runs the AISA Arsenal History Society.


According to a report in the Telegraph, “A group of cross-party MPs have launched an 11th hour bid to torpedo the Saudi Arabia takeover at Newcastle United, by telling the Premier League any deal will help whitewash the state’s repressive regime.

“England’s top tier ‘should do everything in its power to bring individuals carrying out human rights abuses to account’, according to the letter from eight MPs to Richard Masters, the league’s chief executive.

Now that is refreshing because the whitewashing of a repressive regime is exactly what I have been writing about in terms of the continuing FA and player support for taking part in a world cup finals in two years in Qatar, where slave labour has been used to build the stadia.

And up to this point all negative comments about Saudi Arabia have been based on copyright issues, not human rights issues.  As I have said before, copyright is important – it is a significant source of my income – but human rights surely are more important.

This is the first time there has been mention in the Telegraph the fact that not dealing with countries with human rights abuses in terms of football competitions has been mentioned, and it follows on the heels of Untold’s regular complaints that footballing authorities sign up to Black Lives Matter but do not do anything about the fact that at present England are planning to take part in a world cup where the lives of immigrant workers clearly do not matter.

There has been a little coverage of this topic in the media – but very little.  The Guardian for example ran “Qatar World Cup: report reveals 34 stadium worker deaths in six years” in which he stated that “Latest figures show nine stadium worker deaths in 2019 alone, as human rights organisations criticise delay in implementing labour reform.”

As that article said,

“Qatari law and the supreme committee’s worker welfare standards do not require companies to pay compensation for non-work related deaths. However, in October the Guardian revealed that Qatar rarely carries out post-mortems when a migrant worker dies, making it difficult to accurately determine the cause of death and establish if it was non-work related. The Guardian further found that Qatar’s extreme summer heat is likely to be a significant factor in many worker deaths.

“The widow of one of the stadium workers who died last year is still waiting for a response to a letter she wrote to Al Thawadi, asking for compensation. Her husband, Rupchandra Rumba, a 24-year-old labourer from Nepal, died suddenly in his sleep in June.”

Of course the FA, desperate to bend the knee to Fifa, have put endless pressure on the media not to write about or talk about this subject – and this has been with great success.  It is suggested that press passes might not be made available to any media outlet that does cover the topic.

But the media can’t pretend they don’t know about human rights abuses because all the major media receive feeds from Reuters news agency and they have published a range of items on this topic – as for example “Qatar 2022 World Cup stadium workers went months without pay”

That article says,

“Around 100 employees of a Qatari subcontractor, Qatar Meta Coats (QMC), working on the Al Bayt stadium went up to seven months without pay and continue to be owed unpaid salaries, Amnesty said in a report.

“QMC has also not renewed residency permits for most of its workers, necessary for foreigners working in Qatar, the rights watchdog said. Workers interviewed said they had paid fees ranging from $900 to $2,000 to recruitment agents in their own countries for the job, it said.

“QMC did not respond to an emailed request for comment.”

It is stated that QMC has been taken off the project, but human rights organisations insist that there is massive evidence that the abuses continue.



One Reply to “Human rights abuses: has our little campaign had unexpected support?”

  1. Lets hope there is a real debate about this issue and action taken beyond a three word slogan and a questionable gesture for use by those virtue signalling. As you say all lives matter so I do hope these slaves also have enough skin pigment to matter to the entire world beyond football.

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