Denmark will wear shirts at the World Cup that criticise the human rights record of the host nation Qatar, with a black option unveiled to honour migrant workers who died during construction work for the finals tournament.
“The colour of mourning,” the kit manufacturer Hummel said in a post on Instagram releasing the black third-choice design. “While we support the Danish national team all the way, this shouldn’t be confused with support for a tournament that has cost thousands of people their lives.”
The designs seem to complete a promise made last November by the Danish football federation [DBU] to wear clothing with “critical messages” at the tournament.
Though Fifa’s World Cup rules prohibit political statements on team uniform, the three Denmark shirt designs in all-red, all-white and all-black appear to comply, with no words or symbols that are an explicit statement. The national team badge, Hummel logo and decorative white chevrons – a famous feature of the Denmark shirt since the 1980s – are faded into the same single colour as the shirt, but remain visible.
“We support the Danish national team all the way, but that isn’t the same as supporting Qatar as a host nation,” Hummel said.
Qatar’s World Cup organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy [SC], later disputed Hummel’s claim that “the tournament has cost thousands of people their lives”.
“We have engaged in robust and transparent dialogue with the DBU. This dialogue resulted in a better understanding of the progress made, the challenges faced, and the legacy we will deliver beyond 2022,” a SC spokesperson told Reuters.
“We wholeheartedly reject the trivialising our genuine commitment to protect the health and safety of the 30,000 workers who built Fifa World Cup stadiums and other tournament projects. That same commitment now extends to 150,000 workers across various tournament services and 40,000 workers in the hospitality sector.”
Qatar has accepted its labour system is a work in progress, but denied a 2021 Amnesty report that thousands of migrant workers were still being exploited. The Gulf state has been fiercely criticised in the past decade for its treatment of migrant workers, mostly from south Asia, who have built tens of billions of pounds’ worth of infrastructure for the World Cup.
Denmark, ranked No 10 in the world, and who reached the European Championship semi-finals last year, have been seen as one of the 32 World Cup teams most likely to take a strong stance against Qatar. The Danish FA also joined a European campaign launched last week for captains to wear heart-shaped, multi-coloured “OneLove” armbands in World Cup games.
Danish officials have also taken a leading role in a group of European football federations visiting Qatar to monitor the progress of promised reforms in labour laws.
Denmark have been drawn in a group with defending champions France, Australia and Tunisia. The match schedule for the tournament lists Denmark as the home team with first choice of colour only for its opening game on 22 November against Tunisia, who normally play in white.