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40 societies sign letter calling on EUSA to boycott 2022 World Cup, abandon plans to show matches in Teviot

40 societies have signed a letter to Edinburgh University Students’ Association asking it to boycott the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Organised by the 93% Club, the letter calls upon Students’ Association president Niamh Roberts and Commercial Services Director Alan Duff to not follow through on plans to screen the contest.

Currently, EUSA plans to screen the World Cup matches in the Teviot Sports Bar.

The 2022 World Cup host, Qatar, was found to be using forced labour to construct stadiums for the event.

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In addition, significant legal and cultural challenges exist for LGBTQ+ people in the country, with male homosexuality currently being illegal.

International NGO Human Rights Watch recently published findings that arrests of LGBTQ+ people had occurred as recently as last month.

According to PinkNews, “Four transgender women, one bisexual woman and one gay man were reportedly imprisoned without charge, legal counsel, or trial, and forced to sign pledges promising they would ‘cease immoral activity’.”

Speaking to The Student, 93% Club president Andrew Wilson said: “We expect our Students’ Association to take a clear stand against Qatar’s appalling record on LGBT+ rights and their mistreatment of migrant workers.

“If the Students’ Association intends to continue with their planned screenings of the 2022 World Cup, we will not hesitate to escalate our actions.”

The Student has signed on to the letter, with Editor-in-Chief Lucy Jackson saying:

“We do not believe that Edinburgh University Students’ Association should be going ahead with screening matches in their venues.

“To be silent is to be complicit; to provide a platform for the World Cup, in an environment that is meant to represent and safeguard its students, is to delegitimise the abuses that are taking place.

“The Students’ Association ultimately must take action; in not doing so, particularly in the name of free speech, is a position in itself.”

Several large societies, including the History Society, the Political Union, the Geographical Society, the Philosophical Society, and the Classics Society all signed the letter.

A full list of signatories is available at the end of this article, alongside the full text of the letter and Lucy Jackson’s full statement.

The text of the letter also called on the Students’ Association to cease promotional marketing of the World Cup.

It also said that the Students’ Association should refuse to profit “from an event contributing to actions inherently against Students’ Association’s core values and vision.”

The letter continued to say that the signatories “request our Students’ Association shows courage, applies prudent risk management and acts as a progressive leader in advocating for the LGBT+ community.”

“By doing so, we believe our Students’ Association will send a strong message of leadership to the wider community, that the exploitation of migrant workers and the mistreatment of the LGBT+ community is not to be tolerated and overlooked for the sake of a sporting tournament, no matter its worldwide popularity.”

Edinburgh University Students’ Association has been contacted for comment.

File:Teviot Row House, Edinburgh – Graduation day 2017.jpg” by Stinglehammer is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The letter

To,

Niamh Roberts, Students’ Association President

Alan Duff, Students’ Association Commercial Services Director

In full awareness of the realities of human rights violations, same-sex relationship bans and the mistreatment of migrant workers surrounding the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, we, the undersigned societies, and student groups, call on the Students’ Association to:  

  • Refuse to show any of the 2022 World Cup coverage and/or games at any Students’ Association venue
  • Cease all marketing promoting the 2022 World Cup
  • Refuse to capitalize and make profit from an event contributing to actions inherently against Students’ Association’s core values and vision

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is not just an event surrounded in controversy but a true issue of social justice, and the erasure of inclusivity and equality in the worldwide sporting community. Our sense of urgency in signing this letter cannot be overstated. 

As members of the student community, we believe that it is our moral responsibility to show resistance and refuse to compromise on our Students’ Association’s values. 

We request our Students’ Association shows courage, applies prudent risk management and acts as a progressive leader in advocating for the LGBT+ community. We ask that the Association divests its direct and indirect promotion of this event and refuses to continue the cycle of exploitation by making profit from the showing of any World Cup coverage.  

By doing so, we believe our Students’ Association will send a strong message of leadership to the wider community, that the exploitation of migrant workers and the mistreatment of the LGBT+ community is not to be tolerated and overlooked for the sake of a sporting tournament, no matter its worldwide popularity.

The signatories

Signed by

93% Club Edinburgh

Edinburgh University Arts & Heritage Society

PrideSoc – Edinburgh University LGBTQ+ Society

Edinburgh University Film Society

Edinburgh University Northern Society

Edinburgh University Geographical Society

Edinburgh University Classics Society

Edinburgh University Wind Band

Edinburgh University Ocean Advocates (Marine Conservation) Society

Edinburgh University Advocacy Society

Edinburgh University History Society

Edinburgh University Amnesty International Society

Edinburgh University Crafting and Sewing Society

Edinburgh University Fashion Society 

Edinburgh University LGBTQ+ Law Society

Edinburgh University Archaeology Society

Edinburgh University LGBT+ Medics Society

Edinburgh University Philosophy Society 

Edinburgh University Women in STEM Society

Edinburgh University Geoscience Society 

Edinburgh University Baking Society 

Edinburgh University Occult Society

Edinburgh University Mathematics Society

Edinburgh University Young Greens

Edinburgh University Photography Society

Edinburgh University Sign Language Society

Edinburgh University Makeup and SFX Society

Edinburgh Labour Students

Edinburgh Political Union

PublishEd

Racism Unmasked Edinburgh

Student Action for Refugees

The Student Newspaper

The Edi Magazine

Widening Participation Medics

The Noisy Movement

SE7EN Edinburgh

Sanitree

The Rattlecap

Tackling Elitism

Full statement from The Student’s Editor-in-Chief, Lucy Jackson

“At The Student, we recognise the abhorrent LGBTQ+ and human rights abuses that shroud the upcoming World Cup hosted by Qatar.

“In light of this, we do not believe that Edinburgh University Students’ Association should be going ahead with screening matches in their venues.

“To be silent is to be complicit; to provide a platform for the World Cup, in an environment that is meant to represent and safeguard its students, is to delegitimise the abuses that are taking place.

“The Students’ Association ultimately must take action; in not doing so, particularly in the name of free speech, is a position in itself.

“We understand that many students will be looking forward to watching the World Cup, but it is important not to separate the game from the conditions that have enabled it to take place.

The Student will be unwavering in our demands to ensure that action is taken; we have a duty towards our student readership to reflect the voices of our community.”

Image ‘teviot row house‘ by Jon Vrushi is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

By Joe Sullivan

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