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Human rights abusers to be excluded from football? One tiny step forward

By Tony Attwood

If you are a regular reader you may have noticed our little campaign for footballers, supporters, club owners and workers to recognise that the stadia to be used in the 2022 world cup has been built by slave labour.

Now since the whole origin of the Black Lives Matter campaign comes with the decision of the white population of Europe and America to use slave labour in building their empires, up to the mid-19th century, you might have thought this would  be a no brainer, but no, much of the media has utterly and totally refused to contemplate the fact that slave labour is rife in Qatar.   And that’s not just me – try this rare article on the topic from 2017 if you don’t believe me.

Why the media wants to ignore slavery in the world of football is beyond me, but clearly they do.  Maybe its because they expect to make a lot of money out of the world cup, so don’t want to spoil their investment.

Anyway, Amnesty International has woken up, and has written to the PL’s chief executive, Richard Masters, to courteously request that the owners’ and directors’ test should disqualify prospective owners “on the grounds of contributing to human-rights violations”.

I like that idea because once that is in place, we can focus on the fact that no slave owner could buy a club.  At the moment that is not the case.  Saudi Arabian’s were held up in their quest to buy Newcastle because of a copyright infringement argument!

The current test prevents a rich being from becoming a director if he she or it fails to meet certain limited criteria such as having previously been disqualified from holding such a role, having been subject to a bankruptcy order, having an unspent criminal conviction in the UK or not having a valid driving licence.

OK I invented the last bit, but it makes the point how crazy this is.  The world is seriously going to ignore slave labour in Qatar in order to gorge on the world cup.

What the Premier League test does actually say is that if “in the reasonable opinion of the board, he or she has engaged in conduct outside the United Kingdom that would constitute an offence … if such conduct had taken place in the United Kingdom,” that could do them.  So since the employment of slaves is illegal here, that would stop the Qatari’s and the Saudi’s buying a club.

Now all we have to do is to refuse to play against countries where the rulers do not meet the fit and proper person rules.

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Unfortunately, there is nothing directly that stops a human rights abuser from owning a club, which is pretty awful when it comes to it.

Now the new Amnesty version of the F&PP rules also suggests that a director should be disallowed from directing if their association with “any government or organisation” might risk “bringing the league, the club and/or the game into serious disrepute”.

Quite obviously, anyone who associates with the Qatari government and its slave labour and who is also engaged in football, is indeed bringing the game into disrepute.  Which means players, broadcasters and the commentators.

Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s director said, “The controversy around the Saudi-Newcastle takeover has been a major wake-up call – the Premier League urgently needs to get its house in order.

“The owners’ and directors’ test is hopelessly unsuited to the task of vetting who gets to own and run English football clubs – it needs a serious overhaul. At present, anyone wishing to sportswash their reputation by buying into English football can do so knowing that even their involvement in war crimes or torture wouldn’t stop them.”

Absolutely right, and the same will apply to the 2022 world cup.

Although it might make us unpopular, Untold is planning to list every individual who is associated with the Qatar world cup, and call them out for ignoring the slavery that built the stadia – which includes players, commentators, and the rest.

And yes that will include Arsenal players.   Stopping slavery is important – far more important than supporting our team.

The slavery files & the FA

2 comments to Human rights abusers to be excluded from football? One tiny step forward

  • Middy

    Should also apply to sponsorship. Look at who owns Emirates airline. Allowing them to ‘buy prestige’ from respected clubs is them buying a good name and aiding in the ignorance of human rights abuse.

  • nicky

    Do you also include the “buying” of the name of Arsenal’s current Stadium?
    I mean, how far are we expected to ferret in our search for what is right and good?

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