Denmark are to wear a “toned down” kit at this year’s FIFA World Cup in protest at Qatar’s human rights record, sportswear maker Hummel said on Wednesday.
Qatar’s organizing committee accused Hummel of “trivializing” the country’s efforts to improve conditions for migrant workers and called on the Danish Football Union (DBU) to intervene.
The logo of the Danish sportswear brand and the Danish national badge are barely visible on the shirts the company designed for the World Cup, which is to start on Nov. 20.
Several competing nations and rights groups have criticized Qatar’s rights record and FIFA for allowing the event to be held in the state.
The new jerseys were “a protest against Qatar and its human rights record,” Hummel wrote on Instagram.
“We don’t wish to be visible during a tournament that has cost thousands of people their lives,” the company said in an Instagram post that referred to reports of casualties among migrants working on Qatar’s mega infrastructure projects.
“We support the Danish national team all the way, but that isn’t the same as supporting Qatar as a host nation,” it said.
In addition to the main red strip and a second jersey in white, a black and gray third strip was a sign of “mourning,” the kit company said.
Denmark’s training jerseys would carry “critical messages” after the two sponsors agreed to have their logos replaced.
Qatar’s World Cup organizers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, gave a stern response that highlighted “significant reforms to the labor system” to protect workers and “ensuring improved living conditions for them.”
The committee said that there has been “robust and transparent dialogue” with the Danish soccer body that had led to “a better understanding of the progress made.”
“We dispute Hummel’s claim that this tournament has cost thousands of people their lives,” the organizers said. “Furthermore, we wholeheartedly reject the trivializing [of] our genuine commitment to protect the health and safety of the 30,000 workers who built FIFA World Cup stadiums and other tournament projects.”
Qatar says that only three laborers died in work-related accidents during the construction of the eight stadiums in the Doha region.
The committee said that Qatar’s reforms had been “recognized” by some international human rights groups “as a model that has accelerated progress and improved lives.”
“Like every country, progress on these issues is a journey without a finish line, and Qatar is committed to that journey,” the committee said in a statement.
“We urge the DBU to accurately convey the outcome of their extensive communication and work with the supreme committee, and to ensure that this is accurately communicated to their partners at Hummel,” it added.
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