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A man sits beside a soccer mural on a building in Doha, Qatar, ahead of the FIFA World Cup (CNS/John Sibley, Reuters)

European Church leaders have urged awareness of human rights issues during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, amid continued criticism that the Gulf state was allowed to host the tournament. Source: Crux.

“Women continue to be held back in Qatar, while non-Islamic religions, including Christianity, are only granted limited freedom, and sexual minorities subjected to criminal prosecution. All of this expresses, not just from a Western viewpoint, a repressive state and social order,” said Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau, who heads Germany’s Catholic DJK Sportjugend sports association.

He said questions were still asked about the 2010 decision by FIFA, the international soccer governing body, to award the tournament to Qatar, which has no soccer tradition. The bishop issued the statement on November 17 as final preparations were made for the 2022 World Cup, which began yesterday and finishes on December 18.

Bishop Oster said it was “inappropriate to keep silent about human rights restrictions” in the Arab nation.

The bishop said Qatar’s mostly foreign population was subject to “strict regulations”, while female domestic workers were often isolated and had trouble “upholding their rights against employers.”

Meanwhile, Austria’s Catholic Diocesan Sports Association also urged concern for Qatar’s record for “human rights violations, exploitation of migrant workers, corruption and environmental destruction,” and said estimates of up to 3000 deaths during preparations for the tournament suggested “a lack of transparency and possibly slave-like working conditions”.

Churches in Germany have recommended religious services and campaign events to raise awareness of rights issues during the month-long competition and have also urged changes in how World Cup host countries are chosen.


Before World Cup, church leaders highlight human rights concerns in Qatar (By Jonathan Luxmoore, CNS via Crux)