Qatar World Cup still abusing workers, rights organization says

Human rights organization Amnesty International has again hit out at Qatar by saying workers' rights are still being abused in the preparations for the 2022 World Cup and called for football stakeholders to take action.

“The abuse of migrant workers is a stain on the conscience of world football," Amnesty secretary general Salil Shetty said Thursday.

"For players and fans, a World Cup stadium is a place of dreams. For some of the workers who spoke to us, it can feel like a living nightmare."

Shetty was commenting on an Amnesty report which spoke to 132 migrant construction workers rebuilding the Khalifa Stadium and a further 99 who were working on areas surrounding the Aspire Zone sports complex in February this year.

Amnesty said the workers had a litany of complaints including squalid accommodation, having to pay recruiters to get their jobs, salary problems and having passports confiscated.

"FIFA is fully aware of the risks facing construction workers in Qatar and of the opportunity that FIFA, together with other stakeholders, has to facilitate the improvement of working conditions in the country," the world football governing body responded in a statement.

"We remain convinced that the unique attraction and visibility of the FIFA World Cup globally is a strong catalyst for significant change."

Amnesty claimed to have "evidence that the staff of one labour supply company used the threat of penalties to exact work from some migrants such as withholding pay, handing workers over to the police or stopping them from leaving Qatar," which "amounts to forced labour under international law."

Amnesty did say that some workers had been moved to better accommodation and had received their passports back since they previously visited early 2015.

Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup in December 2010 but has been dogged by controversies over both the rights of construction workers in the country and the bidding process with which it won the right to host the tournament.

Hundreds of migrant labourers, especially from Nepal and India, have died in the past three years in Qatar, mostly in the construction sector.

Qatar has previously promised to protect the rights of workers but will come under further pressure as this report is the first to highlight rights violations on World Cup stadiums rather than surrounding infrastructure projects.

“Hosting the World Cup has helped Qatar promote itself as an elite destination to some of the world’s biggest clubs," said Shetty. "But world football cannot turn a blind eye to abuse in the facilities and stadiums where the game is played.

“If FIFA’s new leadership is serious about turning a page, it cannot allow its showcase global event to take place in stadiums built on the abuse of migrant workers.”

“It is time for football’s leaders to speak out or be tainted by association, be they global football brands like Bayern Munich and PSG (Paris Saint-Germain) or major sponsors like Adidas and Coca-Cola.”

Last update: Thu, 23/06/2016 - 18:24
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