UEFA working group responds to FIFA World Cup declaration emphasising need to ‘support human rights’

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A UEFA working group made up of 10 European nations has stressed the need to “support human rights” at the Qatar World Cup.

The decision to stage the World Cup in Qatar has been widely criticised due to concerns over the country’s human rights record, with the conditions of migrant workers and the criminalisation of homosexuality being highlighted.

Amnesty International later accused FIFA of brushing these concerns “under the carpet” after president Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura called on participating nations to “focus on the football” at the World Cup.

In a statement released on Sunday, the working group acknowledged what it perceives to be “significant progress” made by Qatar, though also insisted human rights issues cannot be ignored.

“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 read.

“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.

“We also recognise that every country has issues and challenges and we agree with FIFA that diversity is a strength.

“However, embracing diversity and tolerance also means supporting human rights. Human rights are universal and they apply everywhere.”

The group, made up of the football associations of England, Wales, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Portugal and Belgium, also detailed the talks it has had with FIFA on the matters.

“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,” the statement continued.

“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.

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

The tournament gets underway on November 20 when the hosts take on Ecuador.