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World Cup 2022: Fernandes ‘not happy at all’ about circumstances in Qatar

Bruno Fernandes
Bruno Fernandes says the World Cup should “be done in a better way”

Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes is “not happy at all” about the circumstances surrounding the forthcoming World Cup in Qatar.

Fifa has requested the 32 teams to “now focus on the football” and put politics to one side.

Qatar has been criticised for its stance on same-sex relationships, human rights and treatment of migrant workers before the tournament.

Fernandes said the World Cup “should be done in a better way”.

“We know the surroundings of the World Cup, what has been in the past few weeks, past few months, about the people that have died on the construction of the stadiums,” the Manchester United midfielder told Sky Sports. “We are not happy about that at all.”

In February 2021, the Guardian said 6,500 workers had died in Qatar since it was named the World Cup host nation, using data supplied by embassies in the Gulf country.

However, the Qatar government said the total was misleading, because any of those who died would had been living and working in the country for several years and could have died from old age or other natural causes.

It said official records show that between 2014 and 2020, there were 37 deaths among labourers at World Cup stadium construction sites, only three of which were “work-related”.

The International Labour Organisation said the figures were underestimated because Qatar doesn’t count deaths from heart attacks and respiratory failure as work-related – even though these can result from working in high temperatures.

“It’s not exactly the time we want to be playing in the World Cup,” Fernandes, 28, added. “I think for everyone, players and fans, it’s not the best time. Kids will be at school, people will be working and the timings will not be the best for people to watch the games.

“We want football to be for everyone. Everyone has to be included and involved in a World Cup because a World Cup is the world. It’s for everyone, it doesn’t matter who. These kind of things I think should not happen at any time.

“But for a World Cup it’s more than football, it’s a party for fans, players, something that’s a joy to watch, and should be done in a better way.”

Denmark's World Cup kit - black (left) and red (right)
Denmark will wear “toned down” shirts during matches at the World Cup in Qatar

Fernandes’ United team-mate, Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen, said he believes “change has to come from somewhere else” rather than players.

Denmark will wear “toned down” shirts for the World Cup to protest against hosts Qatar, with kit provider Hummel designing a third, all-black kit, to represent the “colour of mourning”.

But Eriksen, also speaking after United’s 2-1 win at Fulham on Sunday, added: “A lot has been written, there’s a lot of focus on how it’s happened and why it’s in Qatar. I don’t agree with how it’s happened, but we’re footballers and we play football.”