After a decade of controversy after controversy, the World Cup finally kicks off in Qatar this weekend. Given the country’s track record of migrant abuse and stringent anti-LGBTQ+ laws, though, many footy fans are boycotting the event.
And yet hundreds of millions, if not billions, of us will still tune in to watch the tournament. And while boycotting the event might seem like the obvious thing to do, many argue that hosting the tournament has already helped usher in (limited) reform in the country.
So if you find yourself wondering what you can do to support human rights in Qatar (while still watching the games), here are a few easy things you can do.
How can I support human rights in Qatar?
Support Amnesty International’s campaign to compensate migrant workers. In May 2022, Amnesty and a coalition of organisations launched a campaign calling on Qatar and FIFA to offer compensation to the the hundreds of thousands of construction workers who faced abuses such as illegal recruitment fees, unpaid wages, injury and – in the worst cases – death in the run-up to the tournament.
Just generally support Amnesty International. The charity has been consistently calling on Qatari and footballing officials to remedy migrant abuse. It also put out a detailed report looking at what Qatar must do to fulfil promises on migrant-worker rights. You can support the charity by donating, volunteering or taking action here.
Join a protest. There’s a protest happening outside Qatar’s UK embassy on 1 South Audley Street, London, on the day before the football World Cup starts (November 19, from 1-2pm). The protest is coordinated by the Peter Tatchell Foundation, which said the protest is urging the country’s leaders to:
‘End the criminalisation, jailing, online entrapment, ‘honour’ killing and forced conversion of LGBTs. Abolish the male guardian system, whereby women have to get male permission to marry, work, study and travel abroad. Compensate the families of dead migrant workers, pay unpaid wages, close overcrowded slum hostels and give workers the right to join a trade union.’
Sign a petition to end LGBTQ+ discrimination. This petition is calling on FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (a member of the Qatari royal family and head of the country’s organising committee) to ensure safe passage for queer travellers in the country. It is also calling on the government to permanently repeal Article 296 and other discriminatory legislation so that all LGBT+ Qataris have the chance to live openly, freely and safely.
Write an open letter. Charity Human Rights Watch has an easy-to-fill-out open letter you can send to the FIFA president calling on the organisation to compensate migrant workers. They are also using the hashtag #PayUpFIFA to raise awareness of the campaign on social media.
Sign a petition to end forced labour. The modern slavery charity Freedom United has a petition to end forced labour in Qatar, urging the country’s Ministry of Labour to make substantial reforms to the migration system, ensuring the protection of foreign workers. They are committed to applying this pressure beyond the World Cup.
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