Real Madrid came away victorious, 2-1, over F.C. Barcelona on Saturday in El Clásico, a fiercely competitive Spanish soccer match played this year in Barcelona and watched by up to 500 million on television. First held in 1929, El Clásico represents a rivalry that transcends sports and enters the realm of politics.

The history of F.C. Barcelona is rooted in Catalonian left-wing politics, and its local fan base tends to want an independent Catalonia. Real Madrid C.F., also known as the “Royal Rights,” is generally associated with pro-government representation of the Spanish capital.

This year’s El Clásico was played during the same week Amnesty International released a scathing report on human rights violations in Qatar. According to the report, migrant workers have endured major human rights violations while building stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The BBC reports:

Amnesty said every migrant it had interviewed had reported abuses of one kind or another, including being:

  • required to pay fees of up to $4,300 to recruiters in their home country to get a job in Qatar
  • deceived over the type of work and the pay on offer, which was sometimes half as much as they were promised
  • threatened for complaining about their conditions

    One metal worker from India who worked on the Khalifa stadium refurbishment told Amnesty he was threatened by his employer when he complained about not being paid for several months.

    “He just shouted abuse at me and said that if I complained again I’d never leave the country,” the worker said.

    “Ever since I have been careful not to complain about my salary or anything else. Of course, if I could I would change jobs or leave Qatar.”

    Another metal worker from Nepal said his life was “like a prison”.

    Some of the Nepali workers told Amnesty they were not allowed to visit their families after the earthquake last April that killed thousands and left millions displaced.

  • Qatar also has a connection with El Clásico. F.C. Barcelona’s main sponsor is Qatar Airways, a company owned by the state of Qatar, and the airline’s logo appears across each player’s chest.

    One of Real Madrid’s sponsors is Emirates, a subsidiary of the Emirates Group, which is owned by the United Arab Emirates. The UAE, which practices Sharia, permits flogging and stoning and allows women to be married off by their male guardians.

    El Clásico brings entertainment to millions of people. But while the game is touted as an event of pride and honor, some of the teams’ business relationships may not be worth celebrating.

    —Posted by Donald Kaufman

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