The Norwegian top-flight club Tromsø have released a kit featuring a QR code that puts the spotlight on human rights issues in Qatar with just under a year to go until the World Cup.
The club says the new third kit has been created in collaboration with Amnesty International and is the world’s first to feature a QR code which will take those who scan it to a page featuring detailed information on conditions in Qatar.
“Tromsø were the first professional club worldwide to speak out against the inhumane conditions in the country,” read a statement on the club’s official website. “We hoped Fifa and Qatar would listen to us the last time, but obviously money still trumps human rights and human lives. How many human rights violations will it take before the football community unites to demand better protection for migrant workers?”
The kit is being promoted by Malcom Bidali, a former migrant worker and labour activist who was arrested in Qatar for writing an online blog about the brutal conditions he faced there. Bidali speaks at length in a video on Tromsø’s website about his frightening experience of being detained and interrogated in Qatar and the “power imbalance” that he believes exists between employer and employee for migrant workers in the Gulf state.
“It’s innovative and it will raise awareness about all the things that are happening in Qatar,” he said. “It’s the first of its kind and is a brilliant, brilliant move.”
Tromsø started the discussion about Qatar in Norway by suggesting that teams should boycott the tournament. In March, Norway’s players highlighted human rights violations before a World Cup qualifier against Gibraltar by wearing T-Shirts bearing the slogan “Human rights – on and off the pitch”.
In promoting the kit the club said “we must never look the other way when some use our beautiful game to overshadow human rights violations. We can change this together. Stop sportswashing. Keep the game clean.”
Last year Qatar passed into law reforms that were said to largely bring an end to the kafala – or sponsorship – system, under which workers are unable to change jobs without their employer’s permission. However, human rights groups said the measures did not go far enough and some migrant workers were still earning as little as £1 an hour.
The government of Qatar has consistently rejected Amnesty’s assertion that labour reforms have not translated into changes on the ground for migrant workers.