Football stars who have publicly backed anti-racism campaigns were silent yesterday when challenged about the shocking mistreatment of migrant workers building stadiums in Qatar.
Rio Ferdinand, Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane and Ian Wright – advocates for the ‘take the knee’ movement – failed to respond when asked if they would be taking part in the 2022 World Cup on or off the pitch.
Former England and Manchester United star Ferdinand, 42, whose foundation earlier this year launched a new social action programme called United Against Racism, was invited to air his views on a damning UN report accusing the Gulf state of racial discrimination against migrant workers from South East Asia and Africa.
It details how they are racially profiled by police and, on occasion, not paid their wages.
Football stars who have publicly backed anti-racism campaigns were silent yesterday when challenged about the shocking mistreatment of migrant workers building stadiums in Qatar
Human rights organisations say that the migrant workers working on the infrastructure for next year’s tournament are being treated like ‘modern day slaves’.
Ferdinand, a BBC star pundit during the Euro 2020 tournament in the summer, failed to say whether he would consider boycotting the Qatar tournament.
ITV commentator and former Arsenal star Wright, 57, a vocal critic of social media companies for failing to deal with racism against footballers, also remained silent when asked if he would be joining the network’s team in the Middle East.
Crystal Palace manager and former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira, 45, who worked for ITV during the Euros, declined to say whether he would consider pulling out and declined the opportunity to speak out against the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar.
Manchester City star Sterling, 26, who was made an MBE for his anti-discrimination campaigns, also declined to condemn the Qatar government and its officials for their treatment of migrant workers.
Rio Ferdinand (pictured), a BBC star pundit during the Euro 2020 tournament in the summer, failed to say whether he would consider boycotting the Qatar tournament
ITV commentator and former Arsenal star Ian Wright, 57, (pictured) known for his strong opinions, also remained silent when asked if he would be joining the network’s team in the Middle East
He also declined to comment on whether he would consider boycotting the tournament or if he was happy about England taking part in the competition.
England captain Kane, 28, who has encouraged footballers to take the knee in a fight against racism, was also silent on the issue.
When asked of their plans to cover the World Cup in light of the migrant worker scandal, BBC director-general Tim Davie and ITV chief Dame Carolyn McCall, the heads of Britain’s biggest broadcasters, which both have rights to broadcast games, also failed to respond.
Broadcasters Gary Lineker, Alex Scott, Gary Neville and Gabby Logan refused once again to answer questions on whether they will be travelling to Qatar with either ITV or the BBC.
Last week they declined to speak out over the mistreatment of women and the persecution of gay people in Qatar when it was outlined to them by The Mail on Sunday.