Why Denmark has black, muted colours in World Cup jersey

The many controversies, even before kick-off, led former FIFA President Sepp Blatter to say that awarding Qatar the World Cup hosting rights had been a mistake
Last Updated 21 November 2022, 14:56 IST

The Qatar FIFA World Cup has been mired in controversy long before the offside ruling in the opening match between the home team and Ecuador denied the South American team their first attempt at goal. Qatar is the smallest country to ever host arguably the world's largest competition but there has been much unhappiness about some of the host nation's practices.

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter commented that awarding the World Cup hosting rights to Qatar was a "mistake". Many football fans who love their beer are bound to agree, following the last-minute reversal of an earlier decision to allow the sale of beer within the ticketed perimeter with certain restrictions.

Despite FIFA president Gianni Infantino's impassioned speech about Westerners' right to criticize others owing to their history of colonisation, there has been a lot of fracas over Qatar's stand on homosexuality too. Qatar's World Cup ambassador called homosexuality "damage in the mind", and a Sky Sports Germany presenter hit back on the network, saying that he has a "mental disability" according to the ambassador, but would try to "get through the next few minutes" without accident. English football team's Harry Kane is also supposed to wear his OneLove armband to support the LGBTQ community against Qatar's stance, but FIFA has now threatened yellow cards to those who show this sign of protest.

England and Wales were both considering protesting Qatar's stance on LGBTQ matters, but will now have to take the consequences into account. However, one team's protest that neither Qatar nor FIFA can stop is Denmark's.

The team has traded in its usual red jersey for a more toned-down shade, and their white jersey has been stripped back as well. However, the most visually striking is the muted black jersey. Hummel Sport, which designs the national team's jersey put up a statement explaining how the colours are a form of protest.

The statement from the company reads, "With the Danish national team’s new jerseys, we wanted to send a dual message. They are not only inspired by Euro 92, paying tribute to Denmark’s greatest football success, but also a protest against Qatar and its human rights record. That’s why we’ve toned down all the details for Denmark’s new World Cup jerseys, including our logo and iconic chevrons. We don’t wish to be visible during a tournament that has cost thousands of people their lives. We support the Danish national team all the way, but that isn’t the same as supporting Qatar as a host nation. We believe that sport should bring people together. And when it doesn’t, we want to make a statement."

The black jersey- which is their third shirt- and will be worn at least once by Denmark during the World Cup, is to invoke a sense of mourning.

Speaking of the third kit, Hummel said "The colour of mourning. The perfect colour for Denmark's third shirt for this year’s World Cup. 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. We wish to make a statement about Qatar’s human rights record and its treatment of the migrant workers that have built the country’s World Cup stadiums."

Denmark's stand against Qatar's human rights record points to a disturbing side of awarding the Arab nation the right to host the games. A 2021 investigation by The Guardian showed that over 6,500 migrant workers from five South Asian countries had died there since 2010 from various causes including workplace accidents.

Amnesty also noted "The abuse and exploitation of low-paid migrant workers, sometimes amounting to forced labour and human trafficking, have been extensively documented since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar."

However, Qatar maintains that only three people died as a direct result of working on World Cup construction sites, while they report 37 "not work-related" deaths of migrant workers.

Apart from the visual spectacle, the Danish football association will also donate money for each goal scored during November to migrant workers. This includes goals scored in Denmark and the World Cup.

This stance has not gone down well with Qatar's World Cup organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, who said in a statement "we whole-heartedly reject the trivialising (of) our genuine commitment to protect the health and safety of the 30,000 workers who built Fifa World Cup stadiums and other tournament projects."

While FIFA and Qatar have disputed the numbers when it comes to migrant workers' deaths, the association's rules against kits being used to send a political message have been deftly skirted by Denmark in their choice of colours for their national jerseys.

(Published 21 November 2022, 09:55 IST)

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