THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The Dutch World Cup squad will meet a group of migrant workers in Qatar after a training session there ahead of the team’s first match as part of the Dutch FA’s efforts football to promote human rights at the tournament.
The Royal Dutch Soccer Association announced the plan on Thursday evening, a day before coach Louis van Gaal announced his final squad on Friday.
“First of all we are going to Qatar to become world champions, but of course we are looking beyond football,” Van Gaal said in a statement.
He said that as a team, “we find it important to meet the people involved, so we invite them to our training to leave them with a nice memory as well”.
The announcement came days after FIFA urged teams to focus on football at the World Cup, despite concerns over attitudes towards LGBTQ fans and the treatment of migrant workers. The Dutch federation said it organized the meeting with 20 workers in conjunction with FIFA and a union.
The migrant workers who built the World Cup stadiums in Qatar often worked long hours in harsh conditions and faced discrimination, wage theft and other abuses as their employers evaded accountability, said London-based rights group Equidem in a 75-page report published on Thursday.
Under intense scrutiny from the international community, Qatar has enacted a number of labor reforms in recent years that have been hailed by Equidem and other rights groups. But advocates say abuse is still widespread and workers have few avenues of redress.
Qatari officials accuse critics of ignoring reforms and applying a double standard to the first Arab or Muslim country to host the tournament.
Ambet E. Yuson, general secretary of Building and Woodworkers’ International, said migrant workers involved in construction projects related to the World Cup have better protection, but he does not The same is not true for other workers in Qatar.
“Employers, often with impunity, continue to defy the law and violate the human rights of migrant workers. As the tournament approaches, progress on the universal human rights standard has become urgent,” Yuson said.
The Netherlands, three-time World Cup finalists, open their campaign in Qatar against Senegal on November 21. Van Gaal’s side also face Ecuador and the host nation in the group stage.
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