Why Danish ‘Protest’ T-shirts Look Like Regular T-shirts

AL-RAYAN, Qatar — Denmark’s national soccer teams have spent the past six years wearing distinctive jerseys with chevrons down their shoulders. But the Danish men showed up at the 2022 World Cup, and took to the field here on Tuesday, in a kit that looks like a simple red jersey, and that doubles as a protest.

They feature Denmark’s and Hamill’s, brand logos, but all are “watered down” because, as Hamill said after the kits were issued, “we don’t want to show up during a tournament that has cost thousands of people their lives.”

Her statement was a reference to the disputed claim that working conditions in Qatar contributed to the deaths of migrants who built infrastructure related to the World Cup. The all-black Danish 3rd set was “the color of mourning”, Hamill said.

Hamel said the shirts were also “inspired by” the 1992 Denmark team that won the European Championship. But the most notable aspect of their “dual message” was what Hamill called “a protest against Qatar and its human rights record”. In addition to its exploitation of migrant workers, Qatar has been criticized for its suppression of freedom of expression, its intolerance of homosexuality, and its restrictions on women’s rights.

But the T-shirts have drawn accusations of effective marketing and hypocrisy. It is made in China, and Hummel will benefit from it – and therefore, indirectly, it will benefit from the World Cup in Qatar.

The Supreme Committee, the organizing committee for the World Cup in Qatar, responded shortly after the jersey’s release with a statement of its own, “A dispute over[d] Hamill’s claim that this heroism cost the lives of thousands of people “and overrides the reforms of Qatar’s labor law.

“We strongly refuse to underestimate our genuine commitment to protecting the health and safety of the 30,000 workers who built the FIFA World Cup stadiums and other tournament projects,” the Supreme Committee said in its statement.

The Danish Football Association, DBU, did not mention the protest in its announcement of the kits. Instead, it focused on “the 30th anniversary of the greatest triumph in Danish football,” Euro 1992. Hummel said that “the kit was created in close cooperation with the DBU.” But the century-old sportswear company — which is based in Denmark, and doesn’t fit any other teams for the 2022 World Cup — appears to be the primary voice behind what have come to be known as the “protest shirts”.

“We support the Danish national team all the way,” Hamill said in his statement. “But this does not mean supporting Qatar as a host country.”

Christian Eriksen wears the Danish ‘protest’ jersey in the team’s World Cup match against Tunisia at the Education City Stadium on November 22, 2022 in Al-Rayyan, Qatar. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Qatar: Migrant deaths are disproportionate to the population

Hamill’s claim of “thousands of lives” – which echoes many similar claims from fans and Western media – stems, apparently, from misleading and misinterpreted media reports.

The central claim in the most significant report, a 2021 Guardian article whose headline and surface was amended a week after publication, reads: “More than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar since it won the right to host the World Cup.” 10 years ago.” (The article later noted that there were 37 deaths “directly related to the construction of World Cup stadiums”).

There is no dispute about any of that. In fact, according to Qatari government figures, more than 17,000 migrants of all nationalities have died in Qatar since 2010.

What is controversial is the number of more than 17,000 deaths that have been linked to the World Cup, the number of deaths resulting from unsafe working conditions, and whether the 17,000 deaths in a population of about 2 million, over 11 years, were abnormal at all. launch. .

According to Qatari government statistics, less than half of the immigrants in the country work in construction. 68% consider it “unskilled” or “limited skill”. Only a fraction of them have been employed on World Cup sites. The Supreme Committee says there have been three fatal accidents at those locations; Dozens of other workers died while working on it. Despite this, critics argue that the vast majority of the infrastructure in Qatar that has sprung up over the past decade has been built to serve the World Cup. and that the human cost of heroism must factor in those deaths.

On the other hand, the Qatari government has argued that thousands of deaths are in line with projections based on death rates at the population level. This claim has not been independently confirmed or definitively disproved.

Experts say the real problem is that more than half of the deaths in question are actually unexplained. “This is the scandal,” said Nick McGeehan, investigator and worker advocate for FairSquare.

RAYAN, QATAR - NOVEMBER 22: The Danish national football team poses for a team photo during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group D match between Denmark and Tunisia at Education City Stadium on November 22, 2022 in Al-Rayyan, Qatar.  (Photo by Robbie Jay Barat - AMA/Getty Images)

Denmark national football team poses for a team photo during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group D match between Denmark and Tunisia at Education City Stadium on November 22, 2022 in Al-Rayyan, Qatar. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barat – AMA/Getty Images)

“HeyYour vision is to change the world through sport.

Some advocates believe the focus on the deaths has distracted from the unquestioned violations of migrants’ rights in Qatar. This certainly made Denmark’s groups more polarized.

The international controversy over the shirts forced Hummel to post an FAQ on its website to counter some criticism. In response to a question about Qatar’s decline, Hamill said, “The most important thing for us is the violation of human rights with regard to migrant workers in Qatar.”

It acknowledged that China, the location of “a large portion” of Hummel’s production, is “a very dangerous country in terms of human rights”. But it said it conducts regular audits of suppliers, and has a Hummel employee “permanently present” at the factory where the Denmark shirts are made.

He also refuted the accusation that the shirt was a stunt. “It is not a business decision to express our opinion on the Qatar World Cup,” Hamill wrote. “It is instead about our vision of changing the world through sport.”

The company said it is cooperating with Amnesty International, a rights group that regularly investigates and criticizes Qatar. Hamill promised in his FAQ that a “percentage” of shirt sales would be donated to Amnesty. The company’s owner said separately that 1% of revenue from all online sales will go to AI.

Hamill also addressed the division in letters between himself and the Danish Confederation, and the apparent “retreat” of the Danish Confederation.

“Both parties agreed on the direction and statement of the shirts,” Hamill wrote. The third black shirt in particular – regardless of the choice of words or language – is meant to be a pause for reflection and a time to reflect on the importance of human rights and compliance with them.

The company explained, “The use of the word ‘mourning’ is also Hummel’s own formulation, but apart from that, there is no disagreement between Hummel and the DBU regarding statement and communication.

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