Amnesty International is asking FIFA to pay $440m to ‘abused migrant workers’ in Qatar

Hublot World Cup countdown clock overlooking Doha from the Doha Corniche on March 31st. (Photo: Nick Potts/Gallo Images)

rights group Amnesty International urged the Football Association on Thursday FIFA Pay compensation equal to the full prize money of the 2022 World Cup to migrant workers who are “abused” in host country Qatar.

The call, which has been backed by other human rights organizations and fan groups, follows allegations that FIFA has been slow to fight back against the exploitation of workers who have flocked to the tiny Gulf state to work in the years leading up to the tournament, which begins on November 21 to build infrastructure.

“FIFA should provide at least US$440 million to provide relief to the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who have suffered human rights abuses in Qatar during preparations for the 2022 World Cup,” Amnesty said in a statement accompanying a report.

The London-based group urged FIFA President Gianni Infantino to “work with Qatar to create a comprehensive recovery programme”.

It has been claimed that since 2010, the year FIFA awarded the 2022 tournament to Qatar, a “litany of abuses” had taken place “without any calls for improvements in labor protections”.

“Given the history of human rights abuses in the country, FIFA knew – or should have known – the obvious risks to workers in awarding the tournament to Qatar,” said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty Secretary-General.

Amnesty said some abuses persist and described US$440 million as the “minimum needed” to cover compensation claims and ensure remedial action is scaled up going forward.

The sum roughly corresponds to the entire prize money of this year’s World Cup. Amnesty’s call was supported in an open letter to Infantino, which was also signed by nine other organizations including Migrant Rights and Football Supporters Europe.

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When asked for comment, FIFA said it was reviewing “Amnesty’s proposed programme” for Qatar, stressing that it “includes a wide range of non-FIFA World Cup specific public infrastructure built since 2010”.

Qatar’s World Cup organizers said they had been “working tirelessly” with international groups on workers’ rights in stadiums and other tournament projects. However, much of the criticism has been directed at construction outside of the official tournament, which is said to have killed hundreds of workers over the past decade.

“Significant improvements have been made in housing standards, health and safety regulations, grievance mechanisms, health care and reimbursement of illegal worker recruitment fees,” said a spokesman for the organizers, the Supreme Committee on Delivery and Legacy.

“This tournament continues to be a powerful catalyst to leave a lasting human and social legacy before, during and after the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.”

Workers’ demands range from unpaid wages, “illegal” and “extortionate” recruitment fees averaging $1,300 to secure jobs, to compensation for injuries and deaths.

Amnesty welcomed initiatives by FIFA and Qatar, including improvements to World Cup construction sites and labor law reforms introduced since 2014.

Qatar introduced a minimum wage in 2017, cut the hours that can be worked in extreme heat and ended part of a system that forced migrant workers to get employer permission to change jobs or even leave the country.

Workers can go to labor courts and more state inspectors have been appointed.

Foreign workers, mostly from South Asia, make up more than two million of Qatar’s 2.8 million population.

But Amnesty said only about 48,000 workers have so far been given the green light to reclaim recruitment fees.

The requested $440 million is just a “small fraction” of the $6 billion in revenue FIFA expects to generate over the next four years, much of it from the World Cup.

Amnesty International is asking FIFA to pay $440m to ‘abused migrant workers’ in Qatar

Source link Amnesty International is asking FIFA to pay $440m to ‘abused migrant workers’ in Qatar

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