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6 Dec, 2021 16:27

Human rights activists use football kit with code inside it to expose Qatar allegations

Human rights activists use football kit with code inside it to expose Qatar allegations

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International and Norwegian club Tromso have released a shirt featuring a QR code which they say highlights violations in Qatar a year out from the 2022 World Cup.

The kit, which was modeled by Kenyan blogger and migrant worker-turned-human rights advocate Malcolm Bidali, features a scannable code which takes users to a website detailing a range of information about the host nation of next year's World Cup.

Reports have been traversing the web for some years now which detail alleged human rights abuses of workers helping to prepare stadium infrastructure ahead of the tournament.

Qatar is thought to have received two million migrant workers for the project, a figure which makes up 95% of the workforce.

Last year, it was announced that Qatar had changed its labor laws around a week after the release of a damning 78-page report highlighted issues facing many of the workers.

The kafala – or sponsorship – system, which meant that migrant workers' visas were directly linked to their employers, was slammed in the international community as an abuse of workers' rights. 

That law was rescinded but detractors say that a review of the country's labor laws didn't go far enough, with some said to be earning little more than a dollar an hour.

The Qatari government, however, has rebuked suggestions by Amnesty International that amended labor laws haven't improved working conditions to any real degree. 

Tromso and Amnesty International aren't in agreement with that.

"Tromso were the first professional club worldwide to speak out against the inhumane conditions in the country," a message posted on the club's official website reads.

"We hoped FIFA and Qatar would listen to us the last time, but obviously money still trumps human rights and human lives.

"How many human rights violations will it take before the football community unites to demand better protection for migrant workers?

"We must never look the other way when some use our beautiful game to overshadow human rights violations. We can change this together. Stop sportswashing. Keep the game clean," they added.

Bidali, who was arrested in Qatar for writing a blog post critical of the rights afforded to migrant workers, says that there is a "power imbalance" in the country when it comes to employers and employees.

"It’s innovative and it will raise awareness about all the things that are happening in Qatar," he said of the shirt. "It’s the first of its kind and is a brilliant, brilliant move."

Tromso have been consistent in their criticism of the Qatar World Cup and have called for international teams to boycott the tournament.

The Norway national team have also shown their support by wearing t-shirts saying 'Human rights – on and off the pitch' before World Cup qualifying matches, although bosses have stopped short of calling for a boycott of the finals, arguing that it is more important to keep the discussion going.

Other teams to have worn shirts sharing those views include Germany and the Netherlands, while England are also in dialogue with Amnesty.