African press union slams UAE campaign against Qatar 2022 World Cup
Members of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) have denounced attempts to manipulate journalists in Africa into participating in a campaign against Qatar's ability to host the 2022 Fifa World Cup.
In a statement signed on Wednesday, FAJ delegates issued concerns over "efforts to use Africa and its institutions as [a] political football in order to settle scores in political disputes".
"[We] note with dismay recent attempts by external elements from the United Arab Emirates who deliberately tried to manipulate journalists' organisations in Africa to issue public statements or campaign against 2022 FIFA World Cup," the statement read.
"[The federation rejects] with contempt these despicable attempts to use and manipulate African journalists and their organisations as tools to challenge the organisation of 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar."
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies, including the UAE, ended a blockade on Qatar, bringing a close to the three-year dispute between the countries.
During the height of the blockade, which saw a land, sea and air embargo imposed on Qatar, Dubai's deputy chief of police, Dhahi Khalfan, tweeted: "If the World Cup leaves Qatar, the crisis will go away… because the crisis is created to break it".
In Wednesday's statement, FAJ called on the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and qualifying national teams from Africa to be vigilant about "manipulative attempts" and urged CAF and world football's governing body, Fifa, to "investigate and penalise the people and forces behind this unprecedented interference in global soccer events".
The statement also reiterated support to the International Trade Unions Confederation’s (ITUC) position on workers' rights in Qatar.
The ITUC, which has repeatedly criticised Doha for rights abuses against migrant workers, said last year that the situation for these workers had significantly improved following a series of reforms.
"The focus needs to be on implementation of new laws in Qatar that protect workers - thank you to ethical African journalists rejecting shameful approach by UAE detractors who themselves still exploit migrant workers with a Kafala system of modern slavery!" Sharan Burrow, ITUC's general secretary, said on Twitter.
Earlier this week, Qatar authorities released a Kenyan security guard who had been arrested after blogging about the plight of migrant workers. Writing under the pseudonym Noah, Malcolm Bidali reported frequently on the grim realities faced by many workers inside the energy-rich country as it prepares for the upcoming world football tournament.
The football teams of several European countries, including Norway and the Netherlands, have conducted protests over the situation of workers in Qatar.