FA urged by Amnesty International to put pressure on Fifa over workers’ rights in Qatar

The Football Association has been urged by human rights group Amnesty International to put pressure on world governing body FIFA to ensure the rights of migrant workers in Qatar are properly protected.

The Gulf state will host the World Cup, FIFA’s flagship competition, in two years’ time, with the first game kicking off on 21 November, 2022.

A new Amnesty report, Reality Check 2020, points out that while Qatar has introduced significant reforms of its labour laws, there are still significant issues in enforcing these changes and holding rogue employers accountable.

Its UK director, Kate Allen, has written to FA chief executive Mark Bullingham urging the national governing body to play an “active role” in ensuring that Fifa fulfils its “corporate responsibility to respect human rights and effectively address human rights abuses linked to the tournament”.

The Amnesty report states that earlier this year it informed Fifa about how a subcontractor working on a World Cup venue had failed to pay the wages or allowances of around 100 migrant workers for up to seven months in some cases, or renew their residency permits.

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Fifa told Amnesty it had been unaware of this specific situation until Amnesty had informed the organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy and that it was not routinely notified of all cases requiring remediation.

“The fact that FIFA was unaware of the plight of workers at a World Cup site for so long shows it is still failing to take human rights abuses linked to the World Cup seriously enough,” the report says.

The report says the exploitation occurred in “plain sight” of the Supreme Committee, but adds that when Amnesty raised this particular case with the Supreme Committee and FIFA, employees did begin to receive some of what they were owed.

Amnesty was also told by the Supreme Committee that it would continue to follow up with the country’s ministry of labour until the matter was “satisfactorily resolved”.

Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Head of Economic and Social Justice, said: “It’s time for Qatar to send a clear signal that labour abuses will not be tolerated.

“Qatar needs to do much more to ensure legislation has a tangible impact on people’s lives.

“Positive reforms have too often been undermined by weak implementation and an unwillingness to hold abusive employers to account.

“Inspection systems are inadequate to detect abuse, and it remains challenging for workers to lodge complaints without risking their income and legal status.

“Until these reforms are fully enforced, many will remain trapped in a cycle of exploitation.”

Fifa, the FA and the Supreme Committee have been contacted for comment.


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