The Dutch government confirmed on Wednesday that it would send a delegation to the Qatar World Cup in November despite a parliamentary vote urging it not to do so due to concerns over the Gulf country’s treatment of migrant workers.
Qatar, where migrant workers and foreigners make up the majority of the 2.8 million population, has come under severe scrutiny from human rights groups over the migrant issue in the run-up to the tournament, which kicks off on Nov. 20. “The cabinet intends to send a government delegation, as usual at major sporting events,” Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra and Sports Minister Conny Helder said in a joint letter to parliament. “We choose cooperation with Qatar with a view to sustainable change,” it said, adding that they feared staying away would “limit the opportunity for dialogue and cooperation”.
A parliamentary motion approved last year urged the government not to send an official delegation to the Qatar Games because of working conditions and the human rights situation there. A member of the World Cup organising committee said last week that Qatar acknowledges gaps in its labour system but the tournament has allowed the country to make progress on issues related to workers’ rights.
The government of Qatar has previously denied a 2021 Amnesty report that thousands of migrant workers were still being exploited.
It was not immediately clear who would be in the official Dutch delegation. The letter did not explicitly rule out the presence of King Willem-Alexander, who often attends major sporting events.