By Yanay Rosen (Online Editor-in-Chief).
UEFA president and FIFA vice president Aleksander Ceferin has weighed in on President Trump’s immigration ban. As the United States looks to host the 2026 World Cup, Ceferin says that the ban will not help the United States’ chances of securing the bid.
UEFA is the governing body of association football in Europe, and one of six members of FIFA, the organization that runs the World Cup.
It is deeply hypocritical of FIFA leaders to criticize a United States policy that has not been implemented while they have given the World Cup to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022, both proven human rights abusers.
Ceferin says that if the policy is implemented it would affect the United State’s bid. “It will be part of the evaluation, and I am sure it will not help the United States to get the World Cup. If players cannot come because of political decisions, or populist decisions, then the World Cup cannot be played there. It is true for the United States, but also for all the other countries that would like to organize a World Cup,” he said.
“It is the same for the fans, and the journalists, of course. It is the World Cup. They should be able to attend the event, whatever their nationality is. But let’s hope that it does not happen,” he added.
Trump’s executive action ban affects immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya. Although the ban was stayed following a federal court decision, a senior administration official told the Associated Press that the same countries would be targeted in future legislation.
Of the seven countries, Iran has qualified for the World Cup three times since 1998, and has advanced to later rounds of Asian qualifiers along with Iraq and Syria for next year’s World Cup in Russia.
In 2013 the Russian Duma unanimously passed a law banning ‘propaganda’ representing homosexuality as normal. This law not only restricts a basic human right, freedom of speech, but attacks freedom of choice in sexuality.
The human rights abuses in Qatar are even worse. A 2016 Amnesty International accuses FIFA and Qatari officials of indifference towards the “appalling treatment” of migrant laborers.
Migrant laborers, who make up over 90% of Qatar’s workforce, are forced to live in squalor, pay recruitment fees, sacrifice wages and have their passports confiscated.
A migrant steelworker worker told Amnesty officials that he is forced to continue working. “My life here is like a prison. The work is difficult, we worked for many hours in the hot sun. When I first complained about my situation, soon after arriving in Qatar, the manager said, ‘If you want to complain you can, but there will be consequences. If you want to stay in Qatar, be quiet and keep working.’ Now I am forced to stay in Qatar and continue working.”
Amnesty director general Salil Shetty says that the laborer experience can be nightmarish. “The abuse of migrant workers is a stain on the conscience of world football. For players and fans, a World Cup stadium is a place of dreams. For some of the workers who spoke to us, it can feel like a living nightmare,” he said.
“Despite five years of promises, FIFA has failed almost completely to stop the World Cup being built on human rights abuses,” he added.