JUST A BALL GAME? JOINS QATAR PROTEST IN BERLIN
As associate members, LGBT+ campaign organisation JUST A BALL GAME? (JBG?) and Bradford City LGBT+ Fan Group recently joined German and Swiss Queer Football Fan Clubs (QFF) and other activists for a protest outside the Qatar Embassy in Berlin.
Following on from the 2015 Play Fair Qatar campaign set up by the TUC (Trades Union Congress) and delivered across mainland Europe in football by JUST A BALL GAME? many of these activists have joined forces on the days leading up to Qatar hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup to once again shine a spotlight on the human rights violations by the authorities there.
In 2010 FIFA’s existing council members granted the Gulf state the hosting of the tournament but they failed massively in not taking on any due diligence around the discrimination against women, laws and penal codes faced by LGBT+ people (which ultimately could see them face imprisonment or execution) , concerns for journalists and press freedoms and no protections against poor working and living conditions for migrants, many brought in under the atrocious Kafala system which is effectively modern day slavery.
A corruption scandal followed by a leadership change in 2016 for the World’s governing body of football saw the introduction of a human rights policy and UN guidance. The end of 2019 saw several reforms to human rights in Qatar forced though by trade union and human rights campaigners from across the globe, but FIFA failed miserably once more by not putting into practise those policies and principals effectively for those working on construction of the stadiums and other infrastructure, and as a result thousand of unexplained (not investigated) deaths have occurred.
Countless German and Swiss Fan clubs, Ultras and political campaigners have stepped up their peaceful protests during matches and held demonstrations and even art installations to highlight concerns in the more recent years and months leading up to the start of the sports show-piece event. This action has been seen and replicated around the world with the messages strengthened and supported by a number national FA’s competing and players from those teams alike.
The silence from both FIFA and the Qatari Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy on all of these issues is deafening apart from the universal “Football is for All” and “Everyone is Welcome” spouted almost daily.
At the same time these so called leaders and ambassadors are sending out instructions that local laws need to be obeyed and by being a homosexual you are “damaged in the mind” along with “ please do not allow football to be dragged into every ideological and political battle that exists.”
- Founder of JUST A BALL GAME? and a GMB Trade Unionist from the UK (who has had bilateral discussions with FIFA’s head of human rights and anti-discrimination, along with delivery and legacy leaders) joined fellow QFF members and campaigners at the Berlin rally and spoke the following:
“Together we can claim some small victories with the several changes implemented for the rights of migrant workers in recent years, but we must keep the pressure on… and we must do more.”
“Our LGBT+ siblings in Qatar are not free,
Not free to love and be loved,
Not free to have the courage and self –confidence to share their core identity,
Not free to meet, to shop, to party, to work, to live,
Not free to be educated or too educate,
Not free to enjoy music, the arts, or share our passion of football and other sports which so many around the world take for granted as they reside in a country ruled by an outdated Qatari authoritarian regime.”
FLOODLIGHTS ON FOR LGBTIQ RIGHTS IN QATAR.
Today’s rally exists because homophobia, biphobia and
transphobia exist every day the world over.
Same-sex relationships are criminalized in Qatar, our
campaign organisations, activists and Queer Football Fan
Clubs hope issues can be highlighted while the spotlight is
on the Gulf state for the men’s World Cup, which begins in a
few days time.
Trade Unions, Human Rights organizations and workers
across the world have been united in solidarity in keeping
the pressure on the Qatari state for a number of years and
called for an end to Kafala and all other unacceptable slave
labor practice. They called for acceptable living wages, to
improved working, safety and living conditions for migrants
who have built the tournament structures. And, sadly all too
often for compensation and dignity to families and friends
following confirmation of the countless, needless deaths over
the past decade.
Together we can claim some small victories with the several
changes implemented in recent years, but we must keep the
pressure on… and we must do more.
What was once a working class sport enjoyed by local
communities became a middle class pleasure, owned by
businessmen, then a super rich persons play thing to be
tossed away when they became bored. Now we find that
football in some respects has fallen on its own sword and
lost its meaning and its soul.
The football world’s governing body leaders need to take
their own share of the responsibility for awarding the Qatar
state the privilege of being hosts without firstly ensuring its
own ethics and principles, statutes and codes of conduct in
all areas were met. Frustratingly all too often these people in
power put the safety net of high salaries their own glory and
self esteem before any meaningful substance behind the
platitudes, or the safe guarding of others involved in our
beautiful game from grassroots to professional levels.
Our LGBT+ siblings in Qatar are not free,
not free to love and be loved,
not free to meet, to shop, to party, to work, to live,
not free to be educated or too educate,
not free to enjoy music, the arts, or share our passion of
football and other sports which so many around the world
take for granted as they reside in a country ruled by an
outdated Qatari authoritarian regime.
Despite hate and persecution existing, many LGBT+ people
in 2022 feel they have a voice, they need to be seen and
heard and are proud to take a stand for true equality,
inclusion and diversity of others.
LGBT+ RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS.
Today’s LGBT+ inclusion and visibility is tomorrow’s
Lindsay England –founder of, JUST A BALL GAME?