AL RAYYAN, Qatar — Denmark’s national soccer teams have spent the last six years outfitted by Hummel in distinctive t-shirts with chevrons on the shoulders. But the Danish men appeared in the World Cup 2022and he took the field here Tuesday, in a uniform that looks like a simple red shirt, and doubles as a protest.
It features the Denmark and Hummel logos and trademark chevrons, but they are all “grayed out” because, as Hummel said after releasing the kits.“We don’t want to be visible during a tournament that has cost the lives of thousands of people.”
His statement was a reference to the controversial claim that working conditions in Qatar have contributed to the deaths of migrants who built World Cup-related infrastructure. Denmark’s all-black third kit, Hummel said, was the “color of mourning”.
The jerseys, Hummel said, were also “inspired by” the 1992 Denmark team that won the European championship. But the most notable aspect of his “dual message” was what Hummel called “a protest against Qatar and its human rights record.” In addition to his exploitation of migrant workersQatar has been criticized for its crackdown on free expression, its intolerance to homosexuality forks restrictions on women’s rights.
However, the T-shirts drew accusations of performative marketing and hypocrisy. They are being made in China and Hummel will benefit from them and by extension, indirectly, will benefit from the World Cup in Qatar.
The Supreme Committee, the organizing committee for the World Cup in Qatar, responded shortly after the kit launch with a statement of its own, in which it “disputes[d] Hummel’s claim that this tournament has cost the lives of thousands of people” and surpassed reforms to Qatar’s labor law.
“We wholeheartedly reject trivializing our genuine commitment to protect the health and safety of the 30,000 workers who built the FIFA World Cup stadiums and other tournament projects,” the Supreme Committee said in its statement.
Denmark’s soccer federation, the DBU, did not mention the protest in your ad for the kits. Instead, it focused on “the 30th anniversary of Danish football’s greatest triumph,” Euro 1992. Hummel has said that the “kit has been created in close collaboration with DBU”. But it seems the century-old sportswear company, which is based in Denmark and doesn’t wear any other 2022 World Cup teams, is the leading voice behind what’s known as “protest shirts.”
“We support the Danish national team at all times,” Hummel said in his statement. “But that’s not the same as supporting Qatar as a host nation.”
Qatar: Migrant deaths not out of proportion to population
The central statement in the most consequential report, a 2021 Guardian article whose headline and cover were changed a week after publication, was this: “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. years”. (The article then noted that there were 37 deaths “directly related to the construction of World Cup stadiums.”)
None of that is discussed. In fact, according to Qatari government figuresMore than 17,000 immigrants of all nationalities have died in Qatar since 2010.
At issue is how many of those more than 17,000 deaths were related to the World Cup, how many were the result of unsafe working conditions, and whether 17,000 deaths in a population of about 2 million over 11 years is something abnormal. .
According to Qatari government statisticsLess than half of the country’s migrants work in construction; 68% are considered “unskilled” or “limited ability.” Only a fraction of them have been used at World Cup sites. The Supreme Committee says there have been three fatal accidents at those sites; and another three dozen workers have died while working on them. However, critics argue that the vast majority of infrastructure in Qatar that has been built over the last decade has been built to serve the World Cup; and that the human cost of the tournament should factor in those deaths.
The Qatari government, on the other hand, has argued that the thousands of deaths are in line with expectations based on death rates for the entire population. That claim has not been independently confirmed or definitively refuted.
The real problem, experts say, is that more than half of the deaths in question are unexplained. “That,” said Nick McGeehan, a researcher and worker rights advocate at FairSquare, “is the scandal.”
‘ohour vision of changing the world through sport’
The focus on deaths, some advocates believe, has distracted from indisputable violations of migrant rights in Qatar. And it certainly made Denmark’s kits more polarizing.
The international debate around the shirts forced Hummel will publish an FAQ section on its website to address some criticisms. In response to a question about Qatar’s setbackHummel said: “The most important thing for us is that human rights have been abused with regard to migrant workers in Qatar.”
He acknowledged that China, the site of “much” of Hummel’s production, is “a high-risk country with respect to human rights.” But he said he does regular audits of suppliers and has a Hummel employee “permanently located” at the factory where Denmark’s jerseys are made.
He also refuted the charge that the shirt was a trick. “It is not a business decision to articulate our opinion on the World Cup in Qatar,” Hummel wrote. “It’s more about our vision to change the world through sport.”
The company has said it is collaborating with Amnesty International, a human rights organization that regularly investigated and criticized Qatar. Hummel promised in the FAQ that “a percentage” of T-shirt sales would be donated to Amnesty. the the company owner said separately that 1% of the proceeds from all online sales go to Amnesty.
Hummel also addressed the split in messages between himself and the DBU, and the apparent “pullback” of the Danish federation.
“Both parties agreed on the address and statement on the t-shirts,” Hummel wrote. “The third black jersey in particular, regardless of the choice of words or language, is meant to be a pause for thought and a moment to reflect on the importance of human rights and their fulfillment.
“The use of the word ‘bereavement’ is also Hummel’s own wording,” the company clarified, “but other than that, there is no disagreement between Hummel and DBU regarding the statement and communication.”