Netherlands team schedule meeting with migrant workers in Qatar

Soccer Football - 2022 World Cup Preview - Lusail, Qatar - November 10, 2022 General view outside Lusail Stadium ahead of the World Cup REUTERS/John Sibley/File Photo

AMSTERDAM, Nov 11 (Reuters) - The Netherlands soccer team will take time during their stay in Qatar to talk to migrants who helped build the stadiums for the World Cup, coach Louis van Gaal said on Friday.

The team will meet a group of about 20 migrants on Nov. 17 to talk about their working conditions and to give them the opportunity to join the players in training.

The Dutch KNVB is one of the few football associations to criticise human rights and working conditions in Qatar, where migrant workers and foreigners make up the majority of the 2.8 million population.

The country has come under severe scrutiny from human rights groups over the migrant issue in the run-up to the tournament, which runs from Nov. 20 to Dec. 18.

Last year, Qatar's government denied claims in a report by human rights organisation Amnesty International that thousands of migrant workers were being trapped and exploited.

Van Gaal said the meeting with the migrants was meant to give attention to the often dire conditions under which stadiums and other infrastructure for the tournament were built before the team's focus totally shifts to the World Cup itself.

"It will of course be a somewhat manufactured situation, but the fact we are willing to do this tells you something about the ideas of the KNVB and of this squad," Van Gaal said of the meeting.

"But after the hour with the migrants, the focus needs to shift to Senegal," Van Gaal said, referring to the Netherlands' first Group A opponents in Qatar on Nov. 21.

Van Gaal earlier this year said he felt it was ridiculous that the World Cup was being played in Qatar, as he accused world soccer's governing body FIFA of taking the tournament to the Middle East emirate for money and commercial reasons.

Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Ken Ferris

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