FA haven’t gone far enough to tackle evils of this World Cup
Human rights groups unimpressed … and England stars seem uneasy
THE FA have been accused of not taking a strong enough stance against the inhumanity that has overshadowed the build-up to the World Cup.
English football’s governing body made their long-awaited statement yesterday in relation to the human rights atrocities that have taken place in Qatar ahead of the tournament.
The FA vowed to lobby FIFA over labour protection laws after the abuse of migrant workers, and confirmed captain Harry Kane would wear a ‘One Love’ armband during the tournament, which is significant because homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.
However, the steps received a tepid reception from supporters and human rights groups — with Stonewall and Amnesty International indicating the FA had fallen short.
Sportsmail has also learned there is a sense among a number of senior England players that the FA have not done enough to protect them from criticism.
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham defended the statement last night, insisting suggestions they have not been hard enough was unfair.
The FA called for any worker injury or death on construction projects linked to the World Cup to be compensated and said they will push for a Migrant Workers’ Centre to be created in Qatar. They also vowed to meet migrant workers at their training base in Qatar.
With regard to the One Love armband, Kane will join the captains of the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and
Wales in the antidiscrimination gesture, starting with tomorrow’s Nations League match against Italy in Milan. The ‘One Love’ campaign was originally the idea of the Dutch but has been adopted by fellow European nations. Kane said: ‘I am honoured to join my fellow captains in supporting the important One Love campaign. We may all be competing against each other but we stand together against all forms of discrimination. ‘This is even more relevant at a time when division is common in society. Wearing the armband together will send a clear message when the world is watching.’ However, there was no collective statement from the players or manager Gareth Southgate (left). The latter is likely to address the issue today. Amnesty International welcomed the FA statement but felt they could have taken a firmer stance. Felix Jakens, from Amnesty UK, said: ‘It’s obviously welcome the FA is actively seeking to promote inclusion and anti- discrimination, and it’s important this is extended to the World Cup. But the FA now needs to specifically support a FIFA compensation fund for abused workers and the families of those who have died to make the World Cup happen.’
Liz Ward, director of programmes at Stonewall, said: ‘We must remember Qatar is a country where LGBTQ+ people are persecuted simply for being themselves. Sadly, this year’s tournament is not safe for everyone, which is why it’s so important to see Harry Kane pledging to wear an anti-discrimination armband — even though the Rainbow itself is still banned.
‘The global sporting community needs to call out the criminalisation and persecution of LGBTQ+ people in Qatar. It will take more than armbands to end discrimination, but these are positive steps from the FA.’
Sources have also indicated England players feel they have been publicly criticised for issues that do not fall under their remit.
‘It’s not the players’ fault the World Cup is in Qatar, but they are the ones taking all the flak,’ said an insider. ‘If a player said he was withdrawing from the tournament, the FA would just replace him. They can’t win.’
Asked about the underwhelming response to the FA’s statement, Bullingham said: ‘ I’m not sure I see that as fair. We think what we announced reflects the needs of what we’ve been asked to do.’