THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch World Cup team will meet a group of migrant workers in Qatar after a training session ahead of the team’s first match as part of the Dutch soccer federation’s initiative to promote human rights in the tournament.
The Royal Dutch Football Association, KNVB, announced the plan on Thursday night.
“First of all, we are going to Qatar to become world champions, but of course we look beyond football,” manager Louis van Gaal said in a written statement.
He said that as a team, “it seems important to us to know the people involved. Therefore, we invite them to our training to give them a nice memory as well.”
At a press conference on Friday to present his squad for the World Cup, Van Gaal admitted that the meeting between the Dutch stars and the migrant workers was “artificial, because normally that wouldn’t happen.”
But he defended the meeting, saying that “the fact that we want to do it says something about the thoughts of the KNVB and that’s what it’s about.”
The announcement came days after FIFA urged teams to focus on soccer at the World Cup, despite concerns about attitudes towards LGBTQ fans and the treatment of migrant workers. The Dutch federation said it organized the meeting with 20 workers together with FIFA and a union.
migrant workers Those who built Qatar’s World Cup stadiums often worked long hours in difficult conditions and faced discrimination, wage theft and other abuses when their employers evaded accountability, the London-based human rights group said Equidem in a 75-page report released Thursday.
Under intense international scrutiny, Qatar has enacted a series of labor reforms in recent years that have been praised by Equidem and other human rights groups. But advocates say abuses are still widespread and workers have few avenues for redress.
Qatari officials accuse critics of ignoring the reforms and applying double standards to the first Arab or Muslim nation to host the tournament.
Ambet E. Yuson, general secretary of the international union of construction and wood workers, said migrant workers involved in World Cup-related construction projects have had better protection, but the same could not be said for others. workers in Qatar.
“Employers, often with impunity, continue to defy the law and violate the human rights of migrant workers. With the tournament drawing near, progress on the universal human rights standard has become urgent,” Yuson said.
The Netherlands, a three-time World Cup finalist, opens their campaign in Qatar against Senegal on November 21. Van Gaal’s team also plays Ecuador and the host nation in the group stage.
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