Germany players add support over human rights before Qatar World Cup

Joachim Löw said Germany’s players had made an important statement on Thursday by displaying support for migrant workers building 2022 World Cup stadiums in Qatar and the coach added that the team stand for human rights, “no matter the location”.

Germany lined up before kick-off in their opening Group J qualifier against Iceland at Duisburg wearing shirts displaying the message “HUMAN RIGHTS”, with one letter per shirt. Norway staged a similar protest on Wednesday before their match in Gibraltar when their players wore T-shirts with the message: “Human rights, on and off the pitch.”

The initiatives come in the wake of Guardian analysis that showed more than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar since it won the right to host the World Cup 10 years ago.

Löw said he knew about his players’ plan to protest but that he was not the “driving force” behind it. “The players have drawn everything on their shirts. It was supposed to be the first statement by us, by the team,” he said. “We stand for human rights, no matter the location. Those are our values. Therefore, it was a very good and important statement.”

Fifa said after the Norway protest that no action would be taken against the players. “Fifa believes in the freedom of speech, and in the power of football as a force for good,” it said. “No disciplinary proceedings in relation to this matter will be opened.”

The English FA also issued a statement saying it intended to engage with the tournament in a “socially responsible” manner and that there was “still much more to be done” on human rights in the country. The FA said it acknowledged the recent reports “regarding the conditions for migrant workers in Qatar”. The statement continued: “We believe that there is evidence of some progress being made by Qatar, however we recognise there is still much more to be done.”

On Thursday, a spokesperson for the Qatari World Cup organiser, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), said it had “always been transparent about the health and safety of workers”. The spokesperson added: “Since construction began in 2014, there have been three work-related fatalities and 35 non-work-related deaths. The SC has investigated each case, learning lessons to avoid any repeat in the future. The SC has disclosed each incident through public statements and or annual workers’ welfare progress reports.”