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Qatar 2022 World Cup: National football associations under pressure to boycott tournament over migrant worker deaths

Qatar World Cup 2022 venue Al Wakrah Stadium

Following recent reporting in the Guardian that found that more than 6,500 migrant workers had died in Qatar since the World Cup was awarded, national football associations have increasingly been under pressure to boycott the tournament.

In Norway a number of high profile football clubs, including Rosenborg BK, Tromsø, Odds Ballklub, Strømsgodset, Viking and Brann have called for the national team to boycott the event. Tromsø, the first team to call for a boycott, called the number of deaths "horrifying" and said "The fact that corruption, modern slavery and a high number of dead workers are the basis of the most important thing we have, the World Cup, is not at all acceptable."

The Dutch Government postponed a trade mission earlier in March and a Dutch company that was due to provide the turf for the World Cup stadiums has also decided not to supply grass to Qatar, in part because of the conditions migrant workers are under.

In Denmark a petition was launched calling for a boycott which prompted a major sponsor, Arbejdernes Landsbank, to consider withdrawing its sponsorship from the Danish national team. In Germany the ProFans alliance has asked the German Football Association (DFB) not to participate stating: “There is nothing that could justify accepting the human rights violations in Qatar, even knowingly and approvingly by participating in the tournament,

National football associations have so far declined to back calls for a boycott. Several teams have however, made statements concerning human rights and asking for further action from FIFA and the Qatar Government. During Norway's qualifier game with Gibraltar players wore T-shirts that read “Human rights On and off the pitch”. Similar statements were also made by the Dutch and German teams during their qualifying matches.

In mid March 2021 we invited the Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, German and English football associations to respond to these calls.

We received statements in response from the English, Dutch, Danish and German football associations. Norway did not send us a specific statement but it is understood they will consider the calls for a boycott at their AGM next year.

Company Responses

Deutscher Fußball-Bund (German Football Association) View Response
Dansk Boldspil-Union (Danish Football Association) View Response
Koninklijke Nederlandse Voetbalbond View Response
English Football Association View Response
Norges Fotballforbund

No Response

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