November 24th, 2022

Since the kick-off of the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup on November 20th, the Government of Canada, and the Canadian Soccer Association (Canada Soccer) have made it clear that supporting human rights is not on their list of priorities. We’ve seen Canada remain on the sidelines while the safety of LGBTQI people, labourers, and women has been jeopardized leading up to and throughout the FIFA 2022 World Cup.

When other nations took a stand for human rights through the One Love campaign, with the Danish Football Association (DBU) even threatening to withdraw from FIFA altogether, Canada was nowhere in sight. This level of complicity by Canada in the face of human rights violations is simply unacceptable.

In the face of the grave and well-documented rights violations surrounding the World Cup in Qatar, protest is not only possible but required. By remaining silent when there is an opportunity to speak out, Canada Soccer and the federal government are aligning themselves with hate. Canada is falling far behind the standard set by other countries in advocating for human rights at this World Cup and the standard it set for itself with its diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. Sending the International Development Minister, Harjit Sajjan, to support the Canadian men’s national soccer team in Qatar without any form of public protest against FIFA’s anti-protest policies or Qatar’s abysmal human rights record is tantamount to a public display of support for FIFA’s complicity in Qatar’s human rights violations by the Government of Canada.

The horrendous lack of response by both the Government of Canada and Canada Soccer sends a clear message to 2SLGBTQI people in Canada and around the world: Participation in the World Cup takes precedence over 2SLGBTQI people’s safety, dignity, and well-being. Under no circumstances are 2SLGBTQI rights – or any human rights – an acceptable sacrifice. Canada Soccer should be ashamed of participating in this World Cup without showing its support for 2SLGBTQI people on the field. The federal government should be equally ashamed of its official endorsement of this World Cup.

It’s time for the federal government, as well as Canada Soccer, to show leadership on the world stage and consistency with their stated principles. The government is compromising on equity, dignity, and safety for 2SLGBTQI people, and that is unacceptable. It has not gone unseen or unnoticed that both the Government of Canada and Canada Soccer made the decision to look away from the atrocious rights violations in Qatar. Egale is once again calling on the government to hold international sporting events to mandatory human rights standards, and to boycott them if they do not fulfill them. To do anything less is unacceptable.