Qatar failing to clean up its act and what Barça should do about it

qatar airways barçaIt’s not often I write about politics on this blog. There have been other politic issues surrounding the club such as the Catalan independence movement or the recent ‘Peace Tour’ to Israel and Palestine on which I have my opinions but prefer to keep them to myself. However, given the club’s connections with Qatar I felt moved to comment after reading this latest piece from The Guardian on the atrocious conditions suffered by immigrants working on the 2022 World Cup.

The issue of workers’ conditions in Qatar was covered on this blog in an excellent article by Roger Fradera in December 2010. At that time groups like Amnesty International had already revealed many of the human rights problems in the country but I admit I was persuaded then by claims that things were improving and the country was moving towards democracy.

Unfortunately, the Guardian report reveals that little or nothing has changed. The awful truth behind the country whose name appears on our proud Barça shirt cannot be ignored. The negative publicity for the Qatar regime that would be effected if Barça were to ditch the Qatar deal would be enormous. Surely the club’s clout can be used to persuade the Qataris to do something to improve things. It’s time to tell them: ‘clean up your act or we’re out’

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7 Responses to Qatar failing to clean up its act and what Barça should do about it

  1. rogerfradera says:

    Terrible findings from that report but at least other news sources have picked up on the piece and are reporting on it. Shocking:

    “According to documents obtained from the Nepalese embassy in Doha, at least 44 workers died between 4 June and 8 August. More than half died of heart attacks, heart failure or workplace accidents.”

    It’s such a shame that something like the World Cup (with all the risk management controls associated with the competition’s reputation) could not lead to an improvement of conditions for workers in Qatar; delivery pressures seem to have made things worse.

    I can’t imagine that there’ll be much of a response from Qatar other than standard damage-control corporatese. The pressure is on Fifa. With regards to Barca’s response – they’ll be able to dodge the issue unless Qatar Airways are directly implicated.

    BTW, the switch from the Qatar Foundation to Qatar Airways… they managed to fly that one relatively under the radar…

  2. barcacentralnic says:

    Hi Roger, great to hear from you. You are right about FIFA of course, and they are the ones who could really use some influence for positive change. However, I’m not quite sure whether Barça can just ignore this. My knowledge of how the regime works in Qatar is limited but I was under the impression that the Qatar Foundation as well as Qatar Airways were state controlled. It’s all linked together.

    • rogerfradera says:

      Great to be back!

      I don’t think you’re at all wrong Nic about private-public relationships in Qatar but I think that most people are probably less aware and if the Barca board were to acknowledge it they would be reinforcing the link between our sponsor and the abuses and creating a bigger problem for themselves. Unless they’re forced to address it, either through a petition from members or a strong media campaign in Spain, I think that they won’t, but it will be interesting to see.

      BTW, has the local press picked this up at all? And has there been any direct link between the abuses and Qatar Airways? If so, we should see what we can do to press for a comment.

      I think the only good thing that may come from this negative press is a tightening up of protections for workers in Qatar, although it may just be a tightening of the lid over the work being carried out with no change in conditions. Although fingers crossed for the former.

  3. barcacentralnic says:

    Nothing in the mainstream press here about it. I just did a google search and found one article in Spanish from a not very well known source. No direct link between the abuses and Qatar Airways, apart from the obvious state backing.

    • rogerfradera says:

      Keep us posted Nic – I can see it’s gaining slightly more traction over here since the UN’s International Labour Organisation issued its warning to Qatar.

  4. Gary holland says:

    Couldn’t agree more with your article on Qatar.
    As a Proud Cule it disgusts me to know things are no better for there people despite the support it receives from our beloved club.
    As you rightly say Barca, Mr Rosell has a obligation to do something an should threaten to pull out of the sponshership unless things are PROVEN to change.
    FIFA also should be making a difference not in 5 years now before it’s too late for these people, but Sepp Blatter ain’t got a clue so I wouldn’t bet on him making a difference.

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