Denmark’s World Cup gear ‘toned down’ as Hummel protests against Qatar

Denmark will wear a "toned down" kit at this year's World Cup in protest at Qatar's human rights record, sportswear maker Hummel said Wednesday, setting off a furious response from the Gulf state.

Denmark’s World Cup gear 'toned down' as Hummel protests against Qatar
Danish men's national team players Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (L) and Kasper Dolberg sporting the team's new 'toned down' kit during the UEFA Nations League match against France in Copenhagen on September 25th. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Qatar’s organising committee accused Hummel of “trivialising” the country’s efforts to improve conditions for migrant workers and called on the Danish football federation, DBU, to intervene.

The logo of the Danish sportswear brand and the Danish national badge are both barely visible on the shirts designed for the World Cup that starts on November 20th.

Several competing nations and rights groups have criticised Qatar’s rights record and FIFA for allowing the event to be held in the conservative Muslim state where homosexuality is illegal.

Hummel wrote in a post on Instagram that the new jerseys were “a protest against Qatar and its human rights record.

“We don’t wish to be visible during a tournament that has cost thousands of people their lives,” the company said in social media posts that referred to reports of casualties among migrant labourers 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 grey third strip was a sign of “mourning”, the kit company said.

Denmark’s training jerseys will carry “critical messages” after the two sponsors agreed to have their logos replaced. 

Qatar’s World Cup organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, gave a stern response that highlighted “significant reforms to the labour system” to protect workers and “ensuring improved living conditions for them.”

The committee added that there has been “robust and transparent dialogue” with the Danish federation, the DBU, 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. Furthermore, we whole-heartedly reject the trivialising (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 labourers died in work-related accidents during the construction of the eight stadiums in the Doha region. It has been accused of under reporting deaths on wider construction however.

The committee said Qatar’s reforms had been “recognised” 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,” said the 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.”

Qatar has also been criticised for its treatment of the LGBTQ community. 

England captain Harry Kane has said he will wear a “OneLove” armband during the World Cup as part of a Dutch campaign to take a stand against discrimination.

France, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Wales and Switzerland are also supporting the campaign.

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Danish TV reporter cut off by Qatar security staff during live broadcast

TV2 journalist Rasmus Tantholdt was told to stop filming and threatened with the destruction of his camera equipment by local security staff during a live broadcast from FIFA World Cup host nation Qatar.

Danish TV reporter cut off by Qatar security staff during live broadcast

During the live broadcast, studio host Troels Mylenberg refers to criticism of Qatar and asks Tantholdt his experience of this first-hand.

In response, the reporter says “I can show you what conditions are like if we turn the camera”.

The clip of the live broadcast, which was subsequently spread on social media, then shows three Qatar officials demanding the Danish TV crew stop filming.

“We are live on Danish television,” Tantholdt says as he switches to English and shows his press accreditation.

“You invited the whole world to come here. Why can’t we film? It’s a public place,” he then protests.

He then says “do you want to break the camera? So you’re threatening us by smashing the camera”.

Tantholdt, who is well known in Denmark as a war journalist and has reported from locations including Syria and Ukraine, later tweeted that he had received an apology from Qatar International Media Office and Qatar Supreme Committee following the incident.

Denmark’s DBU football association has been one of the more critical voices of FIFA’s decision to award the World Cup to Qatar.

READ ALSO: Denmark will not send representative to Qatar World Cup unless new government in place

The men’s national team will wear a subdued kit during the upcoming tournament in a protest by manufacturer Hummel over human rights in the Gulf country.

The Danish team was denied permission by FIFA to wear training kit displaying a pro-human rights message while in Qatar.

National team coach Kasper Hjulmand has said the players will be “focused on football” during the tournament.

Tantholdt told his employer TV2 that authorities in Qatar seem unused to scrutiny from international media.

“They are afraid that some of these things will come out. My experience after having travelled to 110 countries around the world is that the more dirty laundry you have in the basement that you don’t want on show, the harder it is for us journalists to report. That’s what we’re seeing here,” he said.

“They do not like the inpouring of journalists who are running around to migrant camps and filming all over the place and interviewing homosexual people on the streets. Exposing the things Qatar is not necessarily happy to show the rest of the world,” he said.

“They want to show a huge football party, that everything is good. But as we can see, this must apparently happen with their permission,” he said.