Norwegian Club Highlights Human Rights Issues in Qatar with QR Code Third Kit

A club in Norway’s top soccer league has come up with a novel way to inform supporters about human rights conditions in Qatar, the nation slated to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

Tromsø IL — which currently sits in 12th place in the Norwegian Eliteserien — unveiled a new third kit, manufactured by Danish sportswear company Select, on Monday, Dec. 6, and will wear them for the first time on Sunday, Dec. 12 against Viking FK.

The shirt was developed in partnership with Amnesty International and features an all-over design that is a scannable QR code. The code takes users to a page on Tromsø’s website with detailed information on human rights issues in Qatar.

Photo courtesy Tromsø IL

“Please read up and consider the question: How many human rights violations will it take before the football community unites to demand better protection for migrant workers?

“We can’t pretend football and politics are unrelated, and we must never look the other way when some use our beautiful game to overshadow human rights violations. We can change this together.”

Statement on Tromsø IL’s website

According to Human Rights Watch, Qatar’s large migrant workforce is susceptible to abuse and exploitation, and “efforts to protect migrant workers’ right to accurate and timely wages have largely proven unsuccessful.” The country also has laws that discriminate against women on their books, restricting their ability to work and travel. LGBTQ+ individuals also face discrimination.

Labour rights activist Malcolm Bidali was on hand for Monday’s kit unveiling. Bidali is a former migrant worker in Qatar who was arrested for writing a blog detailing the conditions he faced there. “It’s innovative and it will raise awareness,” Bidali said of the new kit in a video on Tromsø’s website. “It’s a brilliant move.”

Labour rights activist Malcolm Bidali speaks to journalists during Tromsø IL’s third kit launch on Monday, Dec. 6. (Photo courtesy The Guardian)

The base of the Tromsø third kit fades from maroon at the top to sky blue at the bottom, while the dots that make up the QR code fade in the opposite direction. A smaller version of the QR code appears on each sleeve. The crew neck collar and sleeve cuffs are white, as are rectangles that run down the sleeve. Those rectangles are Select’s signature design element, akin to adidas’s three stripes or Hummel’s chevrons.

Tromsø first spoke out about migrant worker conditions in February 2021, issuing a statement on its website that urged the Norges Fotballforbund (Norwegian Football Federation) to boycott the 2022 World Cup. The NFF voted against a boycott during an extraordinary congress held in June.

In March, Norwegian national team players wore shirts reading “Human Rights On and Off the Pitch” prior to a World Cup qualifying match against Gibraltar.

Norwegian national team players wear shirts reading “Human Rights On and Off the Pitch” prior to a World Cup qualifying match against Gibraltar in March 2021. (Photo courtesy The Guardian)

The Norwegian national team did not qualify for the 2022 World Cup, though, after finishing third in its UEFA qualifying group behind the Netherlands and Turkey.

Meanwhile, with their 2022 World Cup qualification sewn up, the Dansk Boldspil-Union (DBU), the governing body of football in Denmark, announced in November that their national team will replace sponsor logos on their training kits during the tournament with human rights messages as part of “a series of critical initiatives to mark the continuing struggle for the improvement of human rights in Qatar.”

Feature photo courtesy VG.no