Joint statement on the position of the Football Players Association of Finland (FPA) and the Finnish National Team Supporters Association (SMJK) regarding the World Cup Qatar.
The biggest celebration in the world of sports, the men’s World Cup, started on Sunday in Qatar. The occasion should be a cause for celebration, but unfortunately the football community has found itself in the position where the reputation of our beloved sport is being tarnished by holding the World Cup in Qatar.
The World Cup was awarded to Qatar in December 2010. Credible evidence has been presented showing that the World Cup was awarded to Qatar as a result of corruption and bribery. This is in strong contrast to the football community’s value of fair play.
Migrant workers have been building the World Cup in inhumane conditions. Thousands of migrant workers have died in construction work. Neither money nor football should surpass the value of human life.
The World Cup will be held exceptionally in November due to the weather conditions in Qatar. No thought was given to the sport, the players, or the supporters when the time and location of the games were chosen. Due to the timing, players will have exceptionally short periods for preparation and recovery, up to four times shorter than usual. From the supporters’ perspective, the World Cup belongs in the summer, when many also have a better chance to attend matches in person.
Gross violations of human rights occur in Qatar. Women and sexual minorities are in a particularly precarious position in the country.This is also in complete opposition to the values of the football community. Football belongs to everyone!
During this World Cup, a new phenomenon has also emerged: the buying of supporters. Groups of paid supporters representing different countries have appeared on the streets of Qatar. These “fake supporters” receive payment for their work and are prominently featured in various media outlets. Using money to recruit players and supporters to represent a national team without any link to the country in question goes against the very essence of national team sports.
FPA and SMJK assert that awarding the World Cup to Qatar was a repugnant and unacceptable decision. Football’s biggest event should be a worldwide celebration of sports, which unites people, countries, and cultures and promotes wellbeing. In the future, the voices of players and supporters should be heard more in decision-making. The needs of the sport, players, and supporters should be better taken into account when deciding on the dates, locations, and competition calendar of major tournaments.
We hope that the excitement around the World Cup does not distract from the discussion about the process of awarding the right to organize tournaments, human rights, working and living conditions of migrant workers, climate issues, and the timing of the competition.
The Football Players Association of Finland and the Finnish National Team Supporters Association encourage all players, supporters, and fans of football to speak out for human rights and our beloved sport!