Secretary General Gijs de Jong of the KNVB is in Qatar this week in an attempt to improve the position of the immigrant workers working there. After consultation with human rights organisations, the KNVB decided to take this step.
Earlier this year, it was announced that 6,500 immigrant workers died in Qatar since the country was awarded the 2022 World Championships eleven years ago. That led to a lot of discussion whether the World Cup should be held in Qatar.
Tuesday, De Jong was already at a meeting organised by the UEFA in Doha, the capital of Qatar, on behalf of the KNVB. There, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) talked about the latest developments and thresholds that slow progress.
De Jong will speak to multiple organizations and individuals in Qatar that affect the position of the guest workers. In this way, the KNVB says it wants to contribute to “sustainable change” in the country.
De Jong: “Of course we still have to qualify for the World Cup, but changing a system that has existed in that region for decades requires time.”
The call for a boycott of the World Cup football in Qatar is quite present, yet the Netherlands does not. Why not, we explained in this March 2021 sports explainer.
Amnesty International called on the KNVB at the end of last year to speak more strongly against human rights violations in Qatar. The reforms are mostly on paper and not in practice, the Human Rights Organization said back then.
De Jong: “Since last year, we have had intensive discussions within the international football world, as well as with the Dutch government, international trade unions and human rights organisations. We certainly dont want to applaud too early, but by continuing to emphasize change structurally together, some progress has been made in recent times.”
The Netherlands, together with England, France, Germany, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland, is part of the UEFA working group which, in cooperation with FIFA, focuses on migrant labour rights in Qatar.
De Jong: “Qatar has made progress over the last three years. That has everything to do with the World Cup. The challenge is that all new laws are complied with everywhere, so there is and remains a lot of work to do. By continuing the dialogue, the UEFA Working Group and the European Unions play a supportive role in this, but also in the envisaged further developments in Qatar.”