Australia’s Socceroos call out World Cup host Qatar’s anti-gay laws


socceroos video
Images: Football Australia

Australia’s national team the Socceroos have called out Qatar’s record on human rights in a video ahead of next month’s World Cup in the country.

Qatar has come under scrutiny after FIFA awarded the Gulf state the major soccer tournament, which begins on November 20.

More than a dozen Socceroos take turns to speak out in the video about Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and criminalising its LGBTIQ+ community.

In Qatar, same-sex activity is illegal and can result in a jail term of up to five years.

The Socceroos said they were speaking out in the video because of the legacy they want to leave behind.

“There are universal values that should define football. Values such as respect, dignity, trust and courage,” the players say.

“When we represent our nation, we aspire to embody these values.”

Migrant workers have suffered “life-threatening” conditions in Qatar and a contested number of them – as many as 6500 since 2010 – have died while building World Cup infrastructure.

“These migrant workers who have suffered are not just numbers,” the Socceroos say.

“Like the migrants that have shaped our country and our football, they possessed the same courage and determination to build a better life.”

The Socceroos continue, “As players we fully support the rights of LGBTIQ+ people.

“But in Qatar people are not free to love the person that they choose.”

The players said they had spent time learning from human rights advocates and said “addressing the issues is not easy” and they “did not have all the answers.”

But the team call for a series of measures, including on migrants’ 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 [and] a legacy well beyond the final whistle of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”

Football Australia supports Socceroos call to Qatar

Football Australia also supported the player’s video, saying in a statement Australian soccer is “the most multicultural, diverse, and inclusive sport in our country.”

“We believe everyone should be able to feel safe and be their true authentic selves,” Football Australia said.

“Whilst we acknowledge the highest levels of assurances given by HH Amir of Qatar and the President of FIFA that LGBTI+ fans will be safely welcomed in Qatar, we hope that this openness can continue beyond the tournament.”

Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) also cheered the players for speaking out, saying the video may spark debate.

“Some will believe they have not gone far enough,” the PFA said.

“Others will call on them to stick to football and stay out of ‘politics’, despite this being a matter of human rights.

“This polarity says much about the courage of the players and also the increasingly fractured nature of the world.”

The PFA said “players of every nation will continue to be asked about their position on Qatar.”

“Acknowledging that the players did not award the World Cup host country is critical,” they said.

“They have no say in its delivery and operations.

“In the absence of leadership from administrators tasked with awarding hosting rights and managing the tournament, it has fallen to players, coaches and fans to provide moral leadership.”

Qatar Emir downplays allegations of human rights abuses

Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch warned police were arbitrarily arresting, detaining and abusing LGBT Qataris as recently as last month.

Activist Peter Tatchell was also in capital city Doha this week to protest the country’s treatment of the country’s LGBTIQ+ communities.

Separately, Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, downplayed the allegations of human rights abuses in a speech, claiming “fabrications and double standards”.

“We initially dealt with the matter in good faith,” Sheikh Tamim said.

But he said now the claims “include fabrications and double standards that were so ferocious that it has unfortunately prompted many people to question the real reasons and motives behind the campaign”.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

1 Comment

  1. Peter Turner
    10 November 2022
    Reply

    Yes it was great the the Socceroo’s spoke out about Qatar’s human rights records and treatment of our community but they are still going to the World Cup.
    It would have been much better if they refused to play but I guess that’s too much to ask for.
    The appropriate time to withdraw would have been when the rights to host the Cup were awarded.

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