September 2 – Just over two weeks before he addresses the entire FIFA membership on-line at its annual congress and conscious of the adverse global publicity surrounding those undocumented meetings with the departing Swiss attorney general, Gianni Infantino has been quick to go on a charm offensive by praising the hosts of next year’s World Cup for passing new laws designed to improve workers’ rights.
It was confirmed on Sunday that the Emir of Qatar had abolished certain restrictions in place for migrant workers in the country, with two new laws passed by authorities.
The changes mean workers are no longer unable to change jobs without their employer’s permission, while a monthly minimum wage of 1,000 Qatari riyal – plus basic living allowances for some workers – has been introduced.
Amnesty International said it hopes the move will “strike at the heart of the abusive kafala system”, the antiquated practice that forced unskilled labourers to have a sponsor and left scores of them vulnerable to exploitation .
“We sincerely congratulate the State of Qatar on this significant step,” Infantino said in a statement.
“Since the FIFA World Cup 2022 was awarded to Qatar, there has been a major collective effort from the local authorities, our partner the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and the ILO [International Labour Organisation] to bring about positive change, and we are really pleased to see that this has materialised into concrete major progress in the area of workers’ rights.
“Well before kick-off, this important milestone demonstrates the capacity of the FIFA World Cup to foster positive change and build a lasting legacy.
“There is definitely still room for further progress, and we will continue to work closely with the authorities and all stakeholders to promote a progressive agenda that should be of long-term benefit to all workers in Qatar, whether involved in the preparation of the event or not.”
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