Soccer  

Netherlands squad to meet migrant workers at Qatar World Cup

The Netherlands squad will meet migrant workers who helped build the stadiums for the World Cup in Qatar, coach Louis van Gaal said on Friday.

The team will meet a group of about 20 migrants on Nov. 17 to talk about their working conditions and to give them the opportunity to join the players in training.

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The Dutch FA (KNVB) is one of the few football associations to criticise human rights and working conditions in Qatar, where migrant workers and foreigners make up the majority of the 2.8 million population.

The country has come under severe scrutiny from human rights groups in the build-up to the tournament, which runs from Nov. 20 to Dec. 18.

Last year, Qatar’s government denied claims in a report by human rights organisation Amnesty International that thousands of migrant workers were being trapped and exploited.

Van Gaal said the meeting would focus attention on the often dire conditions under which stadiums and other infrastructure for the tournament were built before the team’s focus shifts to the World Cup itself.

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“It will of course be a somewhat manufactured situation, but the fact we are willing to do this tells you something about the ideas of the KNVB and of this squad,” Van Gaal said.

“But after the hour with the migrants, the focus needs to shift to Senegal,” he added, referring to the Netherlands’ first game of the tournament on Nov. 21.

Earlier this year Van Gaal said it was ridiculous the World Cup was being played in Qatar, while he accused FIFA of taking the tournament to the Gulf state for money and commercial reasons.