Socceroos Speak Out About Human Rights in Qatar

The Australian national soccer team, known as the Socceroos, have issued a collective statement about the human rights record of Qatar, the country set to host the World Cup beginning in November.

Sixteen players spoke in a video statement about the rights of migrant workers and members of the LGBT+ community in Qatar.

“There are universal values that should define football values such as respect, dignity, trust, and courage. When we represent our nation, we aspire to embody these values,” the players said.

The Socceroos said they were “seeking to embed reforms and establish a lasting legacy in Qatar.”

“This must include establishing a migrant resource centre, effective remedy for those who have been denied their rights, and the decriminalisation of all same-sex relationships."

The video was released along with an open letter from Professional Footballers Australia, and a statement from Football Australia, echoing the Socceroos’ concerns.

The FIFA World Cup is due to begin in Qatar on November 20. Credit: Professional Footballers Australia via Storyful

Video transcript

- Through football, those of us that have had the honor to represent our country have had the opportunity to learn about the world and its people.

- In the quest to qualify for the pinnacle of the world's greatest game, the Socceroos have played on almost every continent.

- Throughout the Socceroos journey from Cambodia in 1970, Hong Kong in '74, Scotland in '85, to Doha in '22, we've seen the power of football and the impact it has on people.

- I was there in 2005 and I saw what the game and what the World Cup means to Australians. I saw how the Socceroos can provide us with a sense of what we can achieve and who we can be beyond our own shores.

- I was there in 2022 in Doha. Scoring that penalty was a proud moment, but I know it was all in service of a bigger cause, helping Australian football succeed on the biggest stage.

- There are universal values that should define football, values such as respect, dignity, trust, and courage. When we represent our nation, we aspire to embody these values.

- As PFA members, we understand the power of collective bargaining and the fundamental rights of all workers to form and join a union.

- Before players had won these rights, their careers in Australia were characterized by the absence of respect and dignity.

- It is for these reasons we must speak about the situation in Qatar.

- Over the last two years, we have been on a journey to understand and learn more about the situation in Qatar.

- We are not experts, but we have listened to groups, such as Amnesty, FIFA, the Supreme Committee, the International Labor Organization, FIFPRO, and most importantly, the migrant workers of Qatar.

- We have learned that progress has been made both on paper and in practice. The Kafala System has largely been dismantled, working conditions have improved, and a minimum wage has been established.

- Whilst the reforms established in Qatar are an important and welcome step, their implementation remains inconsistent and requires improvement.

- We have learned that the decision to host the World Cup in Qatar has resulted in the suffering and in the harm of countless of our fellow workers.

- These migrant workers who have suffered are not just numbers. Like the migrants that have shaped our country and our football, they possess the same courage and determination to build a better life.

- As players, we fully support the rights of the LGBTI+ people. But in Qatar, people are not free to love the person that they choose.

- Addressing these issues is not easy, and we do not have all the answers.

- We stand with FIFPRO, the Building and Woodworkers International, and the International Trade Union Confederation, seeking to embed reforms and establish a lasting legacy in Qatar.

- This must include establishing a migrant resource center, effective remedy for those who have been denied their rights, and the decriminalization 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.

- One that football can truly be proud of.

- One that football can truly be proud of.

- One that football can be truly proud of.

- One that football can truly be proud of.

- One that football can truly be proud of.