Analysis. After Amnesty’s demand for €420 million for the families of migrant workers who perished building stadiums, the EU Parliament passed a resolution for FIFA to pay. The anti-Infantino front is growing.

Pressure on FIFA increases with calls for compensation for dead workers’ families

The anti-FIFA front on the issue of the human rights violation in Qatar is growing larger every day. After the silent protest of the German national team in which they covered their mouths and the anti-FIFA axis with Denmark and the Netherlands, there were also signals of developments in France.

France’s Sports Minister, Amelie Oudéa-Castèra, has called on the French national team to take a side after FIFA censored its “One Love” campaign. The Germans have given a model to follow with their powerful silent protest. Thus, the Ministry of Sports is calling on the team to take a stand, which would create a small earthquake in the soccer world. However, the image of France as always standing up for the protection of fundamental freedoms might not entirely hold up: Marseille player and French national team midfielder Matteo Guendouzi responded to the Sports Minister, saying that the soccer players are in Qatar to play soccer and nothing else.

The French Soccer Federation is perched on a precarious middle ground. This was unavoidable: it has to contend with the prominent presence in Paris of Sheikh Al Khelaifi, the head of the Qatari Sports Investment fund, which, in the run-up to the World Cup in Qatar, has invested over $1 billion in Paris Saint Germain over 10 years. Thus, it was difficult to envision a full alignment of the French with the German and Danish positions, which have sided against FIFA President Gianni Infantino to the point of publicly announcing that they will not support his candidacy for a third term at the head of FIFA (at the upcoming elections in 2023).

The rift in France is evident; other weighty actors in the soccer world are expected to take a stand. Such as the English: the Football Association is the other great pillar of the sport (the Premier League is the most represented national league at the World Cup in terms of the number of players) that has taken a defensive stance so far. England’s coach, Gareth Southgate, has not ruled out that the players might come up with something to make an impact, such as repurposing the rainbow armband that captain Harry Kane did not wear against Iran.

Meanwhile, there are signs of backpedaling by the Qatari authorities. Rainbow-colored items in the stands will no longer be seized. The rainbow hats of Wales fans, which ended up in the hands of police during the match against the U.S., will be allowed. Two days ago, a reporter following the U.S. national team, Grant Wahl, was turned away from the stadium because he was wearing a shirt honoring the homosexual community. And there were clashes before the Netherlands-Senegal match between some Dutch fans and Qatari police: the Dutch soccer fans were wearing rainbow bracelets with the words “One Love,” a campaign that was conceived in the Netherlands two years ago.

The bad news for FIFA head Infantino didn’t stop there: the European Parliament passed a resolution directing FIFA to establish compensation for the families of migrants who died as a result of inhumane working conditions on the Qatar 2022 construction sites. The text of the resolution lists all of FIFA’s “sins.” Strasbourg has called on the national federations and UEFA (FIFA’s arch-enemy) to cooperate for a relaunch and a radical change in the criteria used by FIFA in the allocation of international competitions. This also means compensation for the families of migrants, who in most cases were not even informed of the circumstances of the death of their family member.

This initiative gives an institutional boost to Amnesty International’s call for giving compensation (in the amount of €420 million, which corresponds to the prize money set by FIFA for the 32 federations) to the families of the foreigners who died in Qatar.

The only voice in support of Infantino came from Eden Hazard, the star on the Belgian team, who criticized the silent protest of the German national team. The players of the Iranian squad, however, took inspiration from the Germans and remained polemically silent during the performance of the national anthem before the match with England.

Back in Iran, one of the Iranian athletes not taking part in the World Cup, Voria Ghafouri, was arrested for criticizing the crackdown on street protests, on charges of “propaganda against the state.”

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