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Stand up for workers in Qatar


After running both a guest post and an interview on the plight of migrant workers in Qatar, by and with very influential people both within New Zealand and on the world stage, it’s probably about time I said something on the subject here myself. Following CTU president Helen Kelly’s post, and the interview with ITUC president Sharan Burrow, it could be argued that there isn’t much more to add. However there are a couple of points I want to make at this stage.

The first is to acknowledge the reports that came through this week of the arrest of BBC newsgatherers in Qatar. Their crime? Being invited into the country by the Qatari Prime Minister to report fluffy bunnies and rainbows, before breaking their leashes and looking at human rights abuses as well…

Pertinent to this, following the Burrow interview there was a discussion on the Yellow Fever Forum about potential protest action at the Under 20 World Cup. There are so many things there that would make me tear out my hair if I had much of it left… But I think the most bizarre point made was the suggestion from someone that we should “go to Qatar and protest if you feel strongly about it”.

In light of this week’s news in particular, I think asking that person for any further advice on effective protesting would be a bit like going to Hannibal Lecter for self-defence lessons.

The second most bizarre suggestion made on that thread was that the horrors being reported out of Qatar are ‘alleged’ or somehow unproven. In the face of the evidence all around us in the media, not least from Sharan Burrow who has been there, talked to victims, and seen the things she is talking about, those comments put their authors right up there with climate change deniers and 9-11 ‘truthers’ on the credibility scale.

Which brings me to the second thing I want to say. We have a unique opportunity here in New Zealand. There is a FIFA tournament starting here in ten days’ time and there will be senior FIFA officials in the country for it. If this was any other part of the world there would be protests aimed at FIFA’s complicity in the modern day slavery being utilised to build the football stadia and supporting infrastructure for their tournament.

If we, the football fans of New Zealand, were to stay silent in the face of all this it would reflect rather poorly on us I believe.

So here’s what I’m doing. I have changed the header image of this blog to include the ITUC’s campaign logo: “re-run the vote – no World Cup without workers’ rights”. It will remain for the duration of the U20 World Cup and every post I do on the tournament will carry the same logo, as its feature image, along with a link to this post.

It may not sound like much, but it will reach the approximately 4-6,000 people who read my blog every month.

Nobody wants to do anything to spoil this great event being held in our country. By all means go and enjoy the football. I will be down by the pitch with my photographer credentials, provided FIFA don’t revoke them, loving every minute. But please also think about whether or not there is anything you can do, no matter how small, to send a message of your own.

FIFA needs to hear it.


If you’d like the ITUC ‘re-run the vote’ logo on a t-shirt, I have updated the online store to include such a fashion statement for only $20. Get in amongst it:

Categories: FIFA New Zealand 2015

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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