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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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Captain Kjær says Denmark still ‘amazing’ despite World Cup flop

Simon Kjær insisted that Denmark are still a top team despite their dismal 1-0 defeat to Australia which knocked them out of the World Cup at the group stage.

Captain Kjær says Denmark still 'amazing' despite World Cup flop

Denmark had come into the tournament on a high after getting to the semi-finals of last year’s European Championship and beating world champions France home and away in the Nations League.

But they slumped out of tournament in humiliating fashion, finishing bottom of Group D with just one point and a single goal scored after Mathew Leckie fired Australia into the last 16.

“We didn’t deliver as a team, massively disappointed but that’s part of football, we were flying very high in the Euro, now we’re pretty far down,” said captain Kjær, who sat out of Wednesday’s match injured.

“We will have to take all the beatings and that’s right, we need to take everything. We’re an amazing team, still with a lot of quality and we have to learn from this.”

Denmark were one of the country’s most heavily involved in the rainbow-themed captain’s armband controversy which dominated the early stages of the World Cup.

But Kjær said that his team had been “mentally in a good place” despite the off-field row over LGBTQ rights in Qatar which dominated the early stages of the tournament.

“I saw fire in the boys’ eyes before we went out so there was a strong belief that we could turn this around,” said Kjær.

“We were just missing a bit, we were not able to put it out there today and that is probably the picture of our World Cup. But my mindset about the quality of the team hasn’t changed.

“We’re still a fantastic team and we still have a lot of quality. This is not our standard but I’m a very big fan of the team, so you win as a team and you lose as a team.”

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

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