The head of sports at Helsingin Sanomat newspaper said he felt the risk of being part of the country's “sports image-washing” was too great
File photo of the official logo of the Qatar 2022 World Cup on the wall of an amphitheater in Doha in September 2019 (REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoun)
Finnish's largest daily, Helsingin Sanomat, canceled the trip of its journalists to Qatar to cover the World Cup after discovering that they would be staying in apartments from which migrant workers have been evicted, the editor of the newspaper said on Friday.
Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country chosen by FIFA to host the World Cup, but has come under intense pressure over its treatment of foreign workers and its restrictive social laws.
The Finnish newspaper's sports chief, Erkki Kylmanen, told Reuters agency that the restrictions imposed on journalists by the Qatari authorities they had led the newspaper to consider for several months whether or not to travel to Qatar, but finally decided to cancel the trip a few weeks ago.
“The accommodation reserved for us by the organizers was precisely in the area where people were evicted, according to a Reuters report, among others,” Kylmanen said.
Kylmanen was referring to the Al Sadd and Al Mansoura, in the center of the Qatari capital, Doha, where the authorities emptied a few weeks ago the apartment blocks in which thousands of livedAsian and African workers to free up rooms for fans.
Security workers outside the Al Thumana stadium in Doha (REUTERS/Marko Djurica)
“It's a very shaky situation if we go there to write critical stories but we sleep in a place where people have been evicted,” he said.
Kylmanen said he felt the The risk of being part of Qatar's “sports image laundering” was too great and uncontrollable, adding that the newspaper would report on the World Cup and events in Qatar from Finland.
Denmark will not be silent
On the other hand, the coach of the Danish soccer team, Kasper Hjulmand, said Friday that his team will not remain silent about the human rights situation in Qatar.
FIFA last week rejected a request by Denmark to wear training jerseys with the slogan “Human Rights for All” in Qatar, saying it was a political message.
Denmark's DT Kasper Hjulmand speaking at a conference Press on November 16, 2022 (REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
The Scandinavian country has been one of the most strongly vocal in its opposition to holding the competition in Qatar, due to its human rights record, which is why the Danish government and royal family ruled out attending.
The Danish Football Association (DBU) has also been critical since it claimed responsibility for organizing the World Cup to Qatar in 2010. The Danes have been at the forefront in recent months, demanding more rights for immigrant workers and the LGBT+ community in the emirate.
(With information from Reuters and AFP)