The German Football Association (DFB) is opposed to boycotting the 2022 World Cup but will get behind the national soccer team in pledging support for the rights of migrant workers in Qatar, the governing body’s president Fritz Keller said on Friday.
Germany’s players wore shirts bearing the words “human rights” before their match against Iceland on Thursday, opening their World Cup qualifiers.
Norway’s players protested in a similar fashion on Wednesday before their match against Gibraltar, and wore shirts bearing the message of “human rights on and off the field.”
These initiatives come after an investigation published by the British newspaper “The Guardian” alleging the death of 6,500 workers in accidents related to work in stadiums since Qatar won the organization in 2010.
The club, Tromsø, competing in the Norwegian Lights League, called on the National Federation to consider boycotting the World Cup after the publication of the “Guardian” report, but Keller opposes this step.
In an interview with the German Federation website, Keller said, “Qatar has initiated many reforms and there is remarkable progress, although there are still steps to take.”
“I would have hoped to push for concrete changes, and to have those implemented before awarding the World Cup to a country like Qatar, where there are several things that still need to change,” Keller added.
“Instead, Qatar were awarded the World Cup as a kind of leap of faith, in the hope that it would help bring improvements.”
Keller added, “We must uphold our values and allow the voices to be heard at all times and every player dreams of representing his country in the World Cup and at the same time they know that human rights are not violated.”
On the other hand, Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said today that boycotting the finals is “a big mistake”.
“We have always been transparent about the health and safety of workers, and since construction began in 2014, there have been three work-related deaths and 35 non-work-related deaths,” a representative of the Qatari World Cup organisers, said on Thursday.