England and Wales among 10 FAs urging Fifa to deliver on Qatar workers’ rights

Ten European footballing nations, including England and Wales, have broken ranks to demand that Fifa delivers on promises of a positive legacy for workers’ rights in Qatar.

The countries have made a public request that Fifa step up on two issues it has “repeatedly committed to deliver” but currently remain unfulfilled: a permanent worker’s rights centre in Qatar and a compensation fund for migrant workers and their families. It comes days after the Fifa president Gianni Infantino wrote to all World Cup qualifiers asking they put “politics” to one side and “let football take the stage”.

In their statement the group acknowledge that Qatar is not alone in having “issues and challenges”, a point made by Infantino in his letter, and acknowledges that progress has been made. However, the group go on to call for a more conscientious attempt to deliver change on human rights in the country.

“We acknowledge, and welcome, as we have done in the past, that significant progress has been made by Qatar, particularly with regards to the rights of migrant workers, with the impact of legislative changes demonstrated in the International Labour Organisation’s recent reports,” the statement reads.

“We welcome the assurances given by the Qatari Government and by Fifa regarding the safety, security and inclusion of all fans who travel to the World Cup, including LGBTQ+ fans.”

“However, embracing diversity and tolerance also means supporting human rights. Human rights are universal and they apply everywhere. We will continue to support the momentum for positive, progressive change and continue to advocate for a conclusive outcome and update on the two key outstanding issues we have been discussing with Fifa for a long time.

“Fifa has repeatedly committed to deliver concrete answers on these issues – the compensation fund for migrant workers, and the concept of a migrant workers centre to be created in Doha – and we will continue to press for these to be delivered.”

While written in diplomatic language, the statement references Infantino’s letter and will be interpreted as a direct broadside against the president of the game’s ultimate governing body. It also suggests, however, that the group of European countries are short of global allies in their attempts to put pressure on Fifa.

Alongside Mark Bullingham of the FA and Noel Mooney of the Welsh FA, the statement was signed by leaders of football’s governing bodies in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland.

The statement concludes: “We believe in the power of football to make further positive and credible contributions to progressive sustainable change in the world.”

Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, described critics of the country as “arrogant” on Sunday. Asked in a Sky News interview whether players should stay out of politics, he said “sports should never be politicised” and added: “What kind of message are they sending to their own public if they are use criticising and preaching from a distance? What about their own problems within their countries, which they are turning a blind eye and now they want to preach to the world.

“Honestly, not me or the Qatari people only but there’s a lot of people from around the world who are just seeing this as a sense of arrogance. A sense of people who cannot accept a small country from the Middle East has won the bid to host the World Cup. That’s what it’s all about.”