Since the start of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, players and coaches have shared strong human rights messages to support workers employed in stadium construction in Qatar. Usefulness, consequences, boycott … Carole Gomez, research director at IRIS (Institute of International and Strategic Relations) and specialist in the geopolitics of sport has deciphered this movement.
Are these actions useful?
Carole Gomez : “I consider that they are relatively effective since it makes it possible to draw attention to the situation. There were surveys published a few years ago on the human rights situation and in particular the rights of employees on construction sites in the Qatar which had led to some progress during this period, but it was something that had tended to take a back seat in the light of the various news. There, following the publication of the Guardian investigation at the end of February and these initiatives, it is something that attracts attention which above all makes it possible to put direct or indirect pressure on the State of Qatar and therefore to improve the situation of these employees. “
What could be the consequences of this movement on FIFA?
CG : “FIFA has issued several press releases recalling the importance of respect for human rights so we can consider that the body will approach the organizing committee to try to move this subject forward. This has also been the case these recent years following the mobilization of the NGO Amnesty International which had made it possible to have a certain number of considerable advances which could be made within Qatari labor law even if we are still far from the mark.
This is also why Amnesty International continues to sound the alarm bells to show that there is not only some way to go but above all that there may also be risks of going backwards. FIFA also tries to spare the criticism by committing not to take any sanctions against these two teams (Norway and Germany), which breaks a little with its traditional position on the subject. “
Exactly how do you explain that Fifa has not taken any sanctions when, as a general rule, political messages are prohibited within the framework of meetings?
CG : “It’s a real change of doctrine on the part of FIFA. There had been a number of precedents where it had banned events as consensual as they were. I am thinking for example of Didier Drogba who had been sanctioned for expressing his respect for Nelson Mandela the day after his death.But in the meantime there was the Black Lives Matter movement where we really saw the international sports federations realize that the leaden layer that weighed on the athletes could not more hold and that we could no longer frame what was said by sportsmen and women ”