As the World Cup kicked off in Qatar this week, Kozo Tashima, president of the Japan Football Association (JFA), told reporters that “it’s unfavorable that topics other than football are being brought up at this moment.” Echoing the words of FIFA President Gianni Infantino that he should “focus on football” and not on human rights issues, Tashima answered questions about how he feels about the protests of European teams, including France, Germany and England, against government discrimination. Qatar lesbian and gay. , bisexual and transgender (LGBT).
“As an association, we certainly want to improve the situation with discrimination and human rights, but we believe that now is the time to focus on football,” Tashima said.
What is really “unfavourable” is that Tashima’s comments contradict the JFA’s claim of “social and international contributions”. They effectively let the Qatari authorities off the hook for serious rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and mistreatment of LGBT people in detention, laws criminalizing same-sex relationships, and widespread violations of the labor rights of migrant workers from Bangladesh, Nepal and India. who toiled in scorching heat for extremely low wages to build and supply infrastructure to host the $220 billion World Cup.
Thousands were injured or died in “unexplained deaths” that were never investigated by the Qatari authorities; many were forced to return home without pay, and families who lost their only breadwinner were denied compensation. Although Qatar eventually reformed its labor laws to allow migrant workers to change jobs without the employer’s permission and set a higher minimum wage, the reforms came too late and were inadequately implemented for many workers to benefit.
Thirteen national football federations supported the demand by Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations for a legal defense fund to compensate migrant workers and their families for wage irregularities, injuries and deaths. Just like FIFA sponsors, including AB InBev, Adidas, Coca-Cola, Visa and McDonald. JFA does not.
Instead of turning their backs on these abuses, Tashima and JFA should support migrant workers and their families by joining the call for a legal defense fund and support players, fans and other national teams who want to show solidarity with LGBT people and who stand up for ending human rights violations in sport.