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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Dutch football federation rules out boycotting Qatar 2022

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The Dutch national football team coach and players have said a boycott of the Qatar 2022 World Cup “won’t help”.

The Dutch football federation KNVB confirmed it will not be boycotting the 2022 Qatar World Cup but will instead “attend to raise awareness” about alleged human rights violations in the Gulf state.

In a statement to Doha News, KNVB said the federation was never in favour of the Qatari bid for the 2022 edition of the World Cup due to its “lack of football history and harsh temperatures”. 

The statement came as the coach of the Dutch national team came out against the host nation, Qatar. 

Earlier this month, a Dutch sports and business trade mission to Qatar was postponed due to “concerns” over the mistreatment of construction workers. A number of Dutch political parties have been urging The Hague and King Willem-Alexander to boycott the 2022 event.

Qatar 2022’s critics cited a report published by The Guardian that was slammed for providing misleading statistics on the number of migrant worker deaths at World Cup construction sites.

However, KNVB has now ruled out any possibility of the national team abstaining from football’s biggest event.

“If you want to help improve the situation, you go there and raise awareness,” KNVB told Doha News. “Boycott does not help the people working there.” 

A day earlier, Dutch team coach Frank de Boer said in a press conference that they were advised to go ahead with it.

“Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have said that if we go there, we can better promote the cause,” de Boer said. 

New labour reforms and services

The comments were made just days after Qatar’s historic labour reforms came into effect on Saturday, introducing the region’s first ever non-discriminatory minimum wage.

In addition to the minimum monthly basic wage of 1,000 Qatari riyals QR (275 USD), the new legislation stipulates that employers must pay allowances of at least QR 300 for food and QAR 500 for housing, should employers not provide workers with these directly.

As part of the major labour reform agenda, Qatar has drastically enhanced monitoring across the board to detect violations, enacting swifter penalties and further strengthening the capacity of labour inspectors, according to an announcement made by the Government Communications Office (GCO).

Employers who pay their staff less than the minimum wage will face one-year in jail and a QR 10,000 fine.

Read also: Qatar says labour reforms ‘far from complete’ following Amnesty ‘Reality Check’ migrant report

The GCO also said that since the reforms and new minimum wage were announced in September 2020, some 5,252 companies with a total of 222,042 workers have already updated their payroll systems.

These labour reforms also include the dismantling of the controversial “kafala” or sponsorship system, becoming the first country in the region to do so.

Workers are no longer required to obtain an exit permit to leave the country, or a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to request permission from former employers to change jobs.

“Over 100,000 workers have changed jobs since the NOC requirement was removed six months ago. Thousands of workers have benefited from the removal of NOCs by severing long-term contractual ties and diversifying their skills in Qatar’s labour market,” the statement said.

An Amnesty report published earlier this week tapped into a recent Shura Council meeting that saw the advisory body put forward a set of recommendations which would have undone much of the progress brought about by reforms and re-imposed restrictions on the rights of workers to change jobs and/or leave the country.

However, an official Qatari source assured AFP that these recommendations will not be accepted.

Prior to the publishing of the Amnesty report on Friday, Infantino assured protecting human rights is a top priority for FIFA.

“We need to be fair there (in Qatar) and admit a lot of progress has happened… in the conditions of the workers. Of course more can be done everywhere, always – even in Switzerland,” said the FIFA president.

Similar sentiments were made by senior International Labour Organisation (ILO) official, Houtan Homayounpour who said while more work needs to be done, Qatar’s authorities should be recognised for the work that has gone into making these changes.

Meanwhile, the Dutch ambassador to Doha, Marjan Kamstra held a meeting with Assistant Undersecretary for Labour Affairs at MADLSA Mohammed Hassan Al Obaidly to discuss the “importance of implementation and enforcement of labour reforms”.

“We will continue to support the implementation of Qatar’s labour reform agenda,” the Netherlands embassy said on Twitter.


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