German Football Support Migrants Building Qatari Stadiums

Members of Germany’s national football team Germany showed their support for migrant workers building 2022 World Cup stadiums in Qatar ahead of their 3-0 home win over Iceland in their opening Group J qualifier on Thursday.

The players lined up before kickoff wearing shirts displaying the message “HUMAN RIGHTS”. midfielder Leon Goretzka, who scored Germany’s opening goal, elaborated on the protest.

“We have the World Cup coming up and there will be discussions about it…. we wanted to show we are not ignoring that,” Leon Goretzka told RTL.

“We wrote the letters ourselves. We have a large reach – and we can use it to set an example for the values we want to stand for. That was clear.”

Although in the past players have been punished by FIFA and other football governing bodies for making political statements, no action will follow from the protest.

“FIFA believes in the freedom of speech and in the power of football as a force for good,” FIFA said in a statement.

“No disciplinary proceedings in relation to this matter will be opened by FIFA.”

Joachim Loew’s German team had mirrored a similar demonstration from Norway, who on Wednesday donned T-shirts with the message ‘Human rights, on and off the pitch’ in support of migrant workers building World Cup venues in Qatar for the 2022 finals.

The gesture, before Norway’s World Cup qualifier against Gibraltar, came after several Norwegian clubs spoke out in favour of a boycott of the 2022 finals.

 Calls for boycott 

Earlier on Thursday, a spokesperson for the Qatari World Cup organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), said, “We have always been transparent about the health and safety of workers on projects directly related to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

“Since construction began in 2014, there have been three work-related fatalities and 35 non-work-related deaths.

“The SC has investigated each case, learning lessons to avoid any repeat in the future. The SC has disclosed each incident through public statements and or Annual Workers’ Welfare Progress Reports,” the spokesperson added.

UK daily newspaper The Guardian recently claimed that more than 6,500 workers have died on stadium construction sites since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar in 2010.

In Germany, a poll by magazine Spiegel says two-thirds of those asked were in favour of boycotting Qatar 2022.

A leading German supporters group ProFans has called on the German FA to withdraw the national team from the 2022 World Cup finals.

The German Football Association (DFB) has so far only said it will continue voicing concerns.

 Qatar’s reform race 

Earlier this month, a minimum wage of $275 a month came into force for all workers in Qatar as the Gulf state overhauls its labour laws to face up international scrutiny.

The minimum became mandatory for all newly-signed contracts from August 30 and will now also be compulsory for existing employment agreements.

It requires that all workers, including domestic staff, be paid at least 1,000 riyals ($275) for a month for full-time work — equivalent to around $1.30 an hour.

Employers are also required to either provide bed and board, or an additional 800 riyal a month allowance for food and accommodation.

Previously, there was a temporary minimum wage set at 750 riyals ($206) a month.

The state-run Qatar News Agency reported that the labour ministry had “announced implementation of new minimum wage for all workers.”

Campaign group Migrant Rights has said that the new level is too low and does not reflect Qatar’s high cost of living.

The labour ministry has said the changes will “boost investment in the local economy and drive economic growth.”

Qatar has made a series of reforms to its employment regulations since being selected to host the 2022 World Cup, which has required a vast programme of construction dependent on foreign workers.

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