Germany shows support for human rights before Iceland game

Germany displayed its support for migrant workers building 2022 World Cup stadiums in Qatar ahead of its 3-0 home win over Iceland.

Germany players wear t-shirts which spell out “Human Rights” prior to the contest against Iceland in Duisburg, Germany.   -  Getty Images

Germany displayed its support for migrant workers building 2022 World Cup stadiums in Qatar ahead of its 3-0 home win over Iceland in its opening Group J qualifier on Thursday.

The players lined up before kickoff wearing shirts displaying the message “HUMAN RIGHTS” and midfielder Leon Goretzka, who scored Germany’s opening goal, elaborated on the protest. “We have the World Cup coming up and there will be discussions about it. We wanted to show we are not ignoring that,” he told RTL television.

“We wrote the letters ourselves. We have a large reach and we can use it to set an example for the values we want to stand for. That was clear.”

Germany’s protest came after Norway staged similar action on Wednesday ahead of its 3-0 win at Gibraltar in Group G, when their players donned T-shirts with the message “Human rights, on and off the pitch.”

Although players have been punished by FIFA and other football governing bodies in the past for making political statements, no action will follow from the protest. “FIFA believes in the freedom of speech, and in the power of football as a force for good,” FIFA said in a statement.

“No disciplinary proceedings in relation to this matter will be opened by FIFA.”

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Norway's initiative came after a movement to boycott the tournament over the Gulf state’s alleged treatment of workers, started by top-flight club Tromso, has gathered pace in the Nordic country.

Tromso has asked the Norwegian football federation to consider boycotting the World Cup following a report by British newspaper The Guardian. The paper reported that its calculations showed that at least 6,500 migrant workers had died in Qatar since the country won the right to stage the 2022 World Cup 10 years ago.

Earlier on Thursday, a spokesperson for the Qatari World Cup organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), said: “We have always been transparent about the health and safety of workers on projects directly related to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. 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,” the spokesperson added.