Speaking in a video posted on Professional Footballers Australia’s social media accounts, members of the Australian men’s national team have spoken out over inequality, discrimination against the LGBTI+ community and the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar, the hosts of next month’s World Cup.
Led by captain Matt Ryan, 16 Socceroos raised concerns over the conditions for migrant workers in Qatar, many of whom were employed to build the stadiums that will host games at the tournament. As well as the video, an open letter from PFA, the player’s union, and a statement from Football Australia covering the same topics were released.
The players said “we’ve learned that progress has been made both on paper and in practice” but that “implementation remains inconsistent and requires improvement”. Highlighting “the fundamental right of all workers to form and join a union,” the team said that “migrant workers who have suffered are not just numbers. Like the migrants that shaped our country and our football, they possess the same courage and determination to build a better life.”
Stating that “there are universal values that should define football’s values such as respect, dignity, trust, and courage” and their full support for the rights of LGBTI+ people, the players called for reforms in Qatar, including “establishing a migrant resource centre, effective remedies for those who have been denied their rights and the decriminalisation of all same-sex relationships. These are the basic rights that should be afforded to all and will ensure continued progress in Qatar. This is how we can ensure a legacy that goes well beyond the final whistle of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”