Scottish football fans will stage a protest before tonight’s international friendly with Qatar over the deaths of construction workers building stadiums and infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.
The Scottish Football Supporters Association (SFSA) will be handing out leaflets and talking to fans at Edinburgh’s Easter Road stadium to raise awareness of the plight of migrant workers involved in the construction of the World Cup venues and accompanying infrastructure.
Media reports have been rife of poor working and housing conditions as Qatar prepares to host the world’s biggest football tournament. An International Trade Union Confederation report stated that 1200 workers from India and Nepal have died since it was announced the event was heading to the Gulf.
Simon Barrow, a spokesman for the SFSA, said, “There are a lot of questions raised by the Scottish Football Association agreeing to play this game. We feel it is important to highlight the basic issue of human rights and the extraordinary number of deaths suffered by migrant workers preparing for a football tournament. “For us, this is not a political issue, it is about basic human dignity.
“If construction workers continue to die, it would be quite wrong to go on with the 2022 tournament as planned. Football cannot be about thousands of people dying.
“Some people feel very strongly that supporters should boycott this game. However, because of the timescale, we didn’t think it was credible to organise a boycott.”
Instead, the SFSA decided to use the match as an opportunity to draw attention the light of migrant workers in Qatar. Mr Barrow added, “The feedback we’ve had has been very positive. Social media has been buzzing as people are very concerned about this.”
Construction union UCATT had called for a boycott of the fixture by all Scotland fans while the Scottish Trade Union Congress urged the Scottish Football Association (SFA) to speak out on the “appalling labour abuse” happening in Qatar.
The SFA released a statement earlier in the week saying it was “important to separate this sporting fixture from the serious human rights issues emanating from Qatar” but that they were “cognisant of disturbing reports on the conditions experienced by migrant workers involved in the building of stadia for the forthcoming FIFA World Cup in 2022.” The statement went on to say the SFA had been in contact with Amnesty International to outline their position and ensure positive and productive dialogue in the lead-up to the Qatar match and beyond.