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‘These are basic human rights’: Australia becomes first World Cup country to criticise hosts Qatar

Players called for the decriminalization of all same-sex relationships as a lasting legacy of the controversial tournament

Jamie Braidwood
Thursday 27 October 2022 17:52 BST
Australian football team condemns human rights issue in Qatar ahead of World Cup

Australia has become the first team competing at next month’s World Cup to release a collective statement from its players criticising host Qatar’s record on human rights.

In a three-minute video, members of Australia’s squad read out a statement highlighting Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and restrictions on the LGBTQ+ community, as well as calling for reform as a legacy of the tournament.

The players, which included captain and former Arsenal and Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan, called for the decriminalization of all same-sex relationships in Qatar as well as “effective remedy” for the “suffering” felt by migrant workers.

"These are the basic rights that should be afforded to all and will ensure continued progress in Qatar and a legacy that goes well beyond the final whistle of the 2022 Fifa World Cup,” the players said.

“There are universal values that should define football values such as respect, dignity, trust, and courage. When we represent our nation, we aspire to embody these values.”

England are one of nine European countries who will wear a ‘One Love’ anti-discrimination armband during the World Cup, but Australia are the first country to release a collective statement criticising Qatar.

Football Australia said the video follows almost two years of consultations between the Socceroos, the players’ union, and Football Australia with a number of global organisations including Amnesty International, the sport’s world governing body and FIFPRO, the global players organisation.

Qatar’s ruling emir this week lashed out at criticism of his country over its preparations to host football’s marquee tournament, describing it as an "unprecedented campaign" targeting the first Arab nation to hold the tournament.

Qatar has repeatedly pushed back, insisting the country has improved protections for migrant workers and claiming the criticism is outdated.

Australia are in Group D at the World Cup, along with France, Denmark and Tunisia.

Additional reporting from AP

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