Foreign construction workers leave a construction site in Doha, Qatar, 19 November 2013 | Photo: EPA/STR
Foreign construction workers leave a construction site in Doha, Qatar, 19 November 2013 | Photo: EPA/STR

Amnesty International has asked FIFA to exercise its influence on Qatar, the host country of the 2022 World Cup, to put an end to violations of the rights of migrant workers.

Ahead of qualification matches for the 2022 Qatar World Cup, Amnesty International has called on the International Football Associations Federation (FIFA) to use its leverage with the Qatari authorities to help end the abuse of migrant workers.

According to a statement by Amnesty International released Monday, in a letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Amnesty called on FIFA to live up to its responsibilities to prevent, mitigate and remedy human rights risks connected to the world football tournament in 2022, and to "use the full extent of its influence" to urge Qatar to fulfil its programme of labour reforms before the World Cup kicks off.

Violence and exploitation of migrants

"Qatar has made a number of positive reforms in recent years, partly in response to increased scrutiny after the World Cup contract was awarded, but too often these are not properly implemented and thousands of migrant workers continue to be exploited and abused," Amnesty said.

It said that Qatar's Shura Council, an advisory body, recently put forward a set of recommendations which, if accepted by the government, "would undo much of the progress brought about by reforms, for example by reimposing restrictions on the rights of workers to change jobs and leave Qatar."

On 15 March, Amnesty wrote to FIFA and called on it to live up to its international human rights responsibilities.

"Under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, FIFA must ensure human rights are respected in the organization and delivery of the World Cup, including by carrying out its own independent and regular monitoring of World Cup projects and venues, and conducting due diligence to identify and prevent any human rights abuses associated with the tournament.

"Crucially, FIFA also has a responsibility to ensure that all harms suffered by workers on World Cup-related projects to date are properly remedied, in cooperation with the Qatari authorities and other relevant stakeholders," Amnesty said.

Several Amnesty International offices around the world are now calling on football supporters to sign a petition, urging FIFA to do more to help transform conditions for the workers making the 2022 World Cup possible.

"Concerns over ongoing human rights issues in Qatar have been growing among football supporter groups, with some calling for a boycott," it said.

'FIFA has responsibility to mitigate human rights risks'

"This World Cup simply would not be possible without migrant workers, who comprise 95% of Qatar's workforce. But too often, these workers still find that their time in Qatar is defined by abuse and exploitation," said Steve Cockburn, Head of Economic and Social Justice at Amnesty International.

"As the World Cup organizing body, FIFA has a responsibility under international standards to mitigate human rights risks arising from the tournament, including risks in industries like hospitality and transport, which have expanded massively to facilitate the delivery of the games," he said.

"FIFA and Qatar must put in place a robust plan of action to ensure the migrant workers across all sectors associated with the World Cup have been paid properly, treated fairly, and are free from the control of exploitative employers," Cockburn concluded.


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