The clubs have taken very different stances on human rights issues this week. Commercial interests do not absolve them of social responsibilities

Two of England’s most prestigious Premier League football clubs, both owned by US investors, have been confronted by international human rights abuses in recent days, and responded with starkly contrasting positions. Liverpool, who as European champions are competing in Qatar in Fifa’s Club World Cup, produced a carefully diplomatic statement which nevertheless managed to be forthright in supporting improved conditions for migrant workers labouring in the Gulf.

Campaigners had asked the club to consider using its reputational power to highlight the deaths of many young men working on construction projects in baking heat. Its chief executive, Peter Moore, challenged Qatar to seriously address the risks of heat stress for workers, reaching into Liverpool’s own heritage to say that any and all unexplained deaths should be investigated thoroughly and bereaved families should receive the justice they deserve. That call for accountability was woven into a more predictable corporate clarification: “We remain a sporting organisation and it is important that we are not drawn into global issues on the basis of where our involvement in various competitions dictates that our fixtures take place.”

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