This statement was created in a session facilitated by the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales and the Welsh Centre for International Affairs with Football Association of Wales and a range of organisations and societies in Wales.
A list of those signed up to the statement is at the bottom of the statement and we collectively refer to them here as Tîm Cymru/Team Wales, a collaborative and inclusive term used by partners for programmes that promote Wales internationally with a generosity of spirit. The purpose of the statement is to underpin our engagement with the World Cup with the Well-being of Future Generations Act. We recognise that not all voices were in the discussion to create the statement and so will conduct more outreach around the statement.
We also acknowledge that, given individual remit, some of the members of the collective who have signed the statement will have more opportunities and greater authority to deliver on some of the specific actions mentioned below . However, we are pleased to invite a broad range of partners to sign up in order to endorse the principles of the collective approach presented here and, where possible, to use the platforms they have to share these values.
Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup.
The decision by FIFA to award the World Cup to Qatar caused some controversy among fans and organisations for 3 broad reasons:
- Human rights in Qatar – this was with particular reference to migrant workers who are involved in construction projects which would include the World Cup infrastructure. Figures are disputed but reports have included over 6,500 migrant worker deaths in Qatar since the World Cup was awarded. A more detailed Amnesty report highlights the lack of investigations into causes of death for migrant workers. There are also human rights concerns for women and LGBTQ+ people in Qatar and general concerns about a lack of freedom of expression.
- Safety/welcome for fans, particularly those who are LGBTQ+ (homosexuality is illegal in Qatar) and women
- Environmental impacts, in particular the need for air conditioning to cool stadia given the temperature in Qatar (alongside the broader environmental concerns attached to any World Cup)
Some fans and fan groups have decided to boycott the games with other fans and organisations planning to campaign through their engagement with the games.
Wales qualified for the World Cup in May, the first time since 1958. Since qualifying, the Football Association of Wales (FAW) has communicated its position on these issues in a statement. This links to FAW’s wider work on sustainability.
Sharing Welsh values and stories at the World Cup
The World Cup is an opportunity for Wales to share and champion its values, aspirations and stories on a global stage and to highlight that football is for everyone, everywhere. It’s an opportunity for fans to engage with people and cultures from around the world, potentially creating lasting relationships that promote peace and solidarity.
Wales and Welsh football is itself still on a journey to being inclusive and open to all, so the purpose of sharing values and stories is both to inspire others but also to learn from them.
In interactions at the World Cup, Team Wales will take opportunities to share the stories of:
- International solidarity – “Stronger Together” is the unifying principle –we will use during the games to make links with countries around the world to share and learn – involving artists, education and grassroots sport. Learning from other cultures and understanding their values is just as important as talking about our values. The World Cup is an opportunity to develop lasting friendships and partnerships but also to show solidarity on shared challenges we face such as inequality, climate justice and poverty.
- Wales is a nation of welcome, and is unique as a nation of sanctuary. At a time of significant challenges in the world such as conflict and the climate emergency, offering a warm welcome to all who come to and interact with Wales is key to our national identity and a positive story to share.
- Wales aims to be inclusive – an anti-racist and a LGBTQ+ friendly society that champions disability rights. We’ll share stories of our work on gender equality (in sport and beyond) and inclusivity, making sure diverse voices are heard during the world cup and that fan zones are inclusive.
- We will distinguish between people and government, raising human rights issues wherever we can with government, but not applying stereotypes or assumptions relating to people of Qatar.
- We’ll actively strive to remove barriers for disabled people and encourage campaigns in Wales and internationally to be accessible to disabled people.
- We’re proudly bilingual and will celebrate this, and will also celebrate the broader diverse languages and cultures within Wales making sure these are represented through our publicity and interactions.
- With our net zero aims, Team Wales will carbon offset our World Cup participation through accredited, nature-friendly schemes that respect livelihoods, prioritising Welsh-based organisations
- We’ll share the story and aspirations of the Well-being of Future Generations Act.
- We’ll highlight basic rights for refugees, migrant workers and asylum seekers in Wales and the UK and around the world and will support compensation funds for migrant workers and their families. We’ll remember those workers who have lost their lives in the journey to the World Cup.
- We will work with Gwyl Cymru in Wales and internationally to support a programme that promotes human rights and our values at every opportunity. We will call for the safety and respect for the freedom of expression of all artists working in Qatar and beyond.
- We’ll share ideas about achieving better sustainability in football and sport in general including how to ensure owners and directors are human rights compliant.
- We’ll make and stick to a long term commitment to the issues raised in this World Cup across our international engagement, and commit to ongoing engagement and monitoring once the World Cup has finished
- We recognise that the World Cup takes place in a cost of living crisis not just in Wales but around the world – we’ll be aware of this in our communications.
- We’ll take opportunities to highlight the importance of freedom of expression and avoidance of discrimination.
What should Team Wales do to ensure those stories are authentic?
- Promote Welsh culture and use the Welsh language frequently. Use other languages when interacting with people from other countries.
- Identify carbon footprint of participation and offset with accredited schemes that protect nature and local livelihoods.
- Continue to support fans in their welcoming, inclusive approach, providing facts and tips as appropriate.
- Share monitoring and accountability plans – including those of partners organisations and human rights groups.
- Play a role in holding FIFA to account for delivering on their Human Rights Policy by promoting the shared values.
- Bring attention to human rights violations in countries hosting sporting events and the ways in which host governments may use the sporting event to divert attention from this.
- Put in place interventions to ensure activities related to the World Cup in Wales are inclusive and accessible, with sustainable transport options, and warm hubs for people to enjoy the games during the cost of living crisis.
What can global citizen football fans do?
We recognise that many fans and fan groups feel conflicted about the World Cup being hosted in Qatar. Here are a few ways fans can support Wales and make a difference.
- There are a number of campaigns seeking to hold FIFA to account for their commitments to human rights in the region and in general – FIFA have a Human Rights Policy which they can be held to account on
- Fans can enjoy the games in Fan Zones as a more sustainable and affordable way to join the games than travelling. Those travelling to the games can offset their transport using accredited schemes.
- There are funds for the migrant workers who have died in Qatar and the wider region that fans can donate to. Fans can also campaign for improvements to workers rights in the region and around the world.
- In their own behaviour, fans can be inclusive and curious – get to know fans from other countries. Take a zero tolerance approach to racism, ablism, homophobia, Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination.
- Use this opportunity to highlight values of equalities and fairness, and to use our culture to amplify those voices who need to be heard during the tournament.
- Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales
- Susie Ventris-Field, Chief Executive, Welsh Centre for International Affairs
- Noel Mooney, Chief Executive, FA Wales
- Dafydd Rhys, CEO, Arts Council of Wales
- Sarah Rees, Head of Oxfam Cymru
- Lowri O’Donovan, Wales Representative, Amnesty International UK
- Sian Lewis, CEO, Urdd Gobaith Cymru
- Paul Glaze, Chief Executive, CWVYS
- Grant Poiner, Chief Executive, Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Wales
- David Anderson, Chief Executive, Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales
- Guy Lacey, Chair, ColegauCymru