Amnesty International calls on FIFA to act on labour abuses in Qatar as World Cup qualifiers kick off

KATHMANDU: Ahead of qualification matches for the 2022 Qatar World Cup, Amnesty International is calling on FIFA to use its leverage with the Qatari authorities to help end the abuse of migrant workers. 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 tournament, 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.

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, the AI said in a press release.

According to AI, recently Qatar’s Shura Council, an advisory body, put forward a set of recommendations which, if accepted by the government, would undo much of the progress brought about by reforms, including by re-imposing restrictions on the rights of workers to change jobs and leave the country. “This World Cup simply would not be possible without migrant workers, who comprise 95 per cent of Qatar’s workforce. From stadiums and roads to hospitality and security, the tournament depends on the hard work of men and women who have travelled thousands of miles to provide for their families.

But too often, these workers still find that their time in Qatar defined by abuse and exploitation,” said Steve Cockburn, Head of Economic and Social Justice at Amnesty International. Cockburn said: “As the World Cup organizing body, FIFA has a responsibility under international standards to mitigate human rights risks arising from the tournament. This includes risks to workers in industries like hospitality and transport, which have expanded massively to facilitate the delivery of the games.

This week’s qualifiers are a reminder that the window for FIFA to influence Qatar is closing – it must act now to ensure that the 2022 World Cup is a tournament to be proud of and not one tainted by labour abuses.” 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, the AI reiterated.

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