Finland captain Tim Sparv urges fellow players to speak up over Qatar World Cup
Sparv believes more footballers should follow Marcus Rashford's lead and use their platform for good. There have been widespread allegations of human rights abuse in the Middle Eastern nation since the controversial awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. More than 6,500 migrant workers are reported to have died since the awarding of the World Cup to the country.
Tim Sparv of Finland reacts after the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group B match between Finland and Belgium
Tim Sparv has urged his fellow footballers to "keep talking" about the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The Finland captain challenged everyone in the sport to speak up, saying he "woke up too late" to the issues, and encouraged players to learn from Marcus Rashford's work as a social activist.
The Guardian has reported that more than 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since the awarding of the tournament to the Middle Eastern nation amid widespread allegations of human rights abuse in the country.
"These last 2½ years I have been on a personal journey to learn more about the situation in Qatar," wrote Sparv in The Players' Tribune. "I’m not an expert, but as the captain of the Finnish national team, I know that I might soon be playing in stadiums that have cost workers their lives.
"We players are going to be the public face of a tournament over which we have no control. So I have wanted to know more — I have even spoken directly to migrant workers. And I can tell you this much: They appreciate and feel encouraged by the fact that someone is supporting and empowering them.
"I know I’m writing this article many years too late. I’m still thinking, 'Ah! Could we not have addressed this five years ago?' Maybe we could have changed some of the decisions that were taken, and improved the conditions for the migrant workers.
Maybe we could even have saved lives.
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The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be the first ever played outside of May, June or July.
The tournament has been shifted to November and December due to the intense summer heat in Qatar.
Qatar has adopted new labour reforms since 2015 to improve working conditions, including a minimum wage for all workers, which was announced last August.
However, Amnesty International have accused the country of using forced labour, withholding wages and passports, and has called on FIFA to act.
Sparv believes that boycotting the tournament would be the wrong approach, though he and the Finland squad have discussed what they can do.
"I’ve got to applaud Marcus Rashford," Sparv continued. "He’s so young but he has already changed his country. He was a superstar before. Now he has become an icon. I hope players look at him and go, 'Should I not be doing more, too?'
"It’s not like we footballers have to be silent, like in the past. We can publish our thoughts whenever we wish, and when we do, the media writes about it. The fans and the public read it. We have more influence than ever before — we just have to use it.
DOHA, QATAR - March 30: A general view of the construction site of The Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar - venue for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on March 30, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
Image credit: Getty Images
"So I would encourage other players to be brave. Qatar isn’t even a political topic, it’s a humanitarian one. If nothing else, just highlight it. Bring it to people’s attention.
"Saying something is so much better than saying nothing."
Finland are currently second in UEFA Group D in World Cup qualifying having played three group games.