Migrant worker issues in focus as FIFA meet Amnesty to discuss Qatar 2022 progress

March 14 – FIFA are back in discussion with Amnesty International over the conditions for migrant workers in Qatar in connection with the World Cup. This time the discussion is not focussed on construction workers by on those in the service and hospitality sector.

The Amnesty International delegation will visit FIFA headquarters in Zurich today (March 14) and will handover a petition calling on FIFA to address worker issues.

FIFA will then host a discussion with Amnesty and its Qatari partner “to look at the progress achieved so far and the challenges that still remain,” said FIFA.

“As widely recognised by international expert organisations, the World Cup has already contributed significantly to improved labour conditions in the region and it is clear that Qatar is on the right track having introduced sweeping labour reforms and making substantial progress, in what has been a comparatively very short period of time,” said FIFA’s Chief Social Responsibility & Education Officer Joyce Cook.

With construction work winding down, attention has already shifted to the development of an audit and inspection programme for the hospitality sector as well as due diligence measures for service companies deployed on FIFA competition sites.

The meeting will Amnesty will discuss “these initiative in detail”, said FIFA.

In 2010, the Gulf country won the hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup after a controversial vote by the FIFA executive committee that dashed the dreams of among others the United States and Australia, but ever since Qatar has faced severe scrutiny over their treatment of migrant workers, who labour to deliver all the infrastructure required to stage the tournament.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have detailed deceptive recruitment practices, wage abuses and strenuous working conditions enabled by the kafala or sponsorship system repeatedly, but Qatar and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the local organising committee for the World Cup, insist that labour reform has been significant in the country.

“We remain fully committed to ensuring the protection of workers engaged in the delivery of the World Cup, and we are confident that the tournament will also serve as a catalyst for broader positive and lasting change across the host country,” said Cook.

Earlier this year, the Guardian reported that 6500 migrant workers have lost their lives in World Cup construction and infrastructure work at large since the 2010 vote. The figure has been disputed by Qatar, but the report led to a storm of protest, ignited by Norwegian club Tromso.

The World Cup will kick off on 21 November and culminate with the final on Qatar Day four weeks later. It will be the first World Cup in wintertime and the last with 32 teams.

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