FIFA should commit $440m to World Cup workers who suffered, says Amnesty International

By Sports Desk May 19, 2022

FIFA should set aside $440million of World Cup revenue as compensation for workers who have suffered during preparations for the 2022 World Cup, human rights group Amnesty International has said.

That sum matches the total prize money on offer to teams at the tournament, which takes place in November and December.

Amnesty, which as part of a coalition has written to football's world governing body to request a "comprehensive remediation programme", claimed there has been "a litany of abuses" since FIFA awarded the tournament Qatar.

It said a "lack of enforcement of Qatar's labour reforms, and the narrow group of workers covered by FIFA's commitments, have limited their impact".

In response, FIFA said the awarding of the World Cup has "served as a catalyst for landmark labour rights reforms in Qatar".

Amnesty, in a report published on Thursday, said that "the scale of abuses requiring remediation since 2010 remains vast", claiming thousands have been "cheated of their wages by abusive employers, made to work excessive hours, or subjected to conditions amounting to forced labour". It said some had died after working in inhospitable conditions, alleging "their deaths were rarely investigated, and their families hardly ever compensated".

According to Amnesty, FIFA "contributed to a wide range of labour abuses that were both preventable and predictable".

Agnes Callamard, secretary general of Amnesty International, said: "Given the history of human rights abuses in the country, FIFA knew⁠ – or should have known⁠ – the obvious risks to workers when it awarded the tournament to Qatar. Despite this, there was not a single mention of workers or human rights in its evaluation of the Qatari bid and no conditions were put in place on labour protections. FIFA has since done far too little to prevent or mitigate those risks.

"Providing compensation to workers who gave so much to make the tournament happen, and taking steps to make sure such abuses never happen again, could represent a major turning point in FIFA's commitment to respect human rights.

"By turning a blind eye to foreseeable human rights abuses and failing to stop them, FIFA indisputably contributed to the widespread abuse of migrant workers involved in World Cup-related projects in Qatar, far beyond the stadiums and official hotels."

FIFA strongly denies it turned a blind eye, responding in a letter published by Amnesty by stating: "Human rights-related matters have been taken into consideration in FIFA World Cup 2022 planning from the very beginning, with the bid committee aiming to use the competition as an instrument to shape wider social change in Qatar."

The world body said "the due diligence put in place to protect workers involved in FIFA World Cup projects has been a source of continuous learning".

FIFA said "countless workers have received financial remediation" already, including outstanding wages and the repayment of $22.6m of recruitment fees by December 2021, with a further $5.7m allocated in that area.

The letter from FIFA, which is led by president Gianni Infantino, was signed by Andreas Graf, its head of human rights and anti-discrimination.

He added: "The work to hold companies to account on labour rights has not been without challenges and will continue to require serious efforts during the coming months.

"At the same time, we are pleased to have seen significant progress not only for FIFA World Cup workers but also in the country at large and which has led to tangible positive
changes for hundreds of thousands of workers in Qatar."

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