Wales at the World Cup: Calls for FIFA to compensate migrant workers in Qatar receive public support
Calls for FIFA to contribute to a compensation scheme for migrant workers in World Cup host country Qatar have received strong public backing, after Amnesty accused the English FA of “lagging behind” its Welsh counterparts on this issue.
The Football Association of Wales said earlier this year it wanted to see “further significant and lasting improvements” in the conditions of migrant workers in Qatar, including ongoing support through the creation of a migrant workers centre.
Now, human rights campaign groups, including Amnesty International, have called on football’s global governing body to set aside 440million US dollars (£380m) to support the scheme – equivalent to the amount it is set to hand out in World Cup prize money.
Seventy-three per cent of more than 17,000 people who took part in a global poll commissioned by Amnesty International and conducted by YouGov supported the idea of FIFA helping to compensate migrant workers.
Support is even higher among those who said they were likely to watch at least one World Cup game – 84 per cent.
A substantial majority – 67 per cent – also believe national associations such as the Football Association should speak out on human rights issues related to Qatar, including calling on FIFA to support the migrant workers compensation scheme.
Migrant workers have been heavily involved in the construction of World Cup stadia and other infrastructure in the Gulf state since it was awarded the finals back in 2010, with Amnesty and other groups highlighting the human rights abuses they have suffered.
The groups have called on FIFA and the Qatari state to set up a fund which reimburses migrant workers for unpaid wages and for recruitment fees they have been forced to pay, and which would compensate the families of migrant workers who have been killed or injured at work.
The YouGov survey included 2,183 people from the UK, with 74 per cent of those people supporting a compensation scheme and 70 per cent wanting their national associations to speak out about it.
Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s chief executive, said: “This poll shows that people in the UK want to see the suffering of Qatar’s migrant World Cup workers properly addressed, not pushed aside by the glitz and excitement of the tournament itself.
“The British public – fans and non-fans alike – want justice for abused World Cup workers, and they want to see the English and Welsh FAs showing they genuinely care about human rights by publicly backing a FIFA-funded workers’ remediation programme.
“FIFA should have insisted on human rights clauses when it originally assessed Qatar’s hosting bid – now it needs to make amends.
“Whoever wins the World Cup, we need to see proper recognition of the abuses so many workers experienced in the long and troubled lead-up to Qatar 2022.”
The English FA’s chief executive Mark Bullingham is part of a working group established by European football’s governing body UEFA which is examining migrant workers’ conditions.
In common with the group’s statement on June 29, the FA believes any injury or death should be compensated and is also supportive of the creation of a migrant workers centre, they said.
The FA is awaiting next steps from FIFA and the Qatar Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy on these two points as they examine compensation mechanisms and the concept of the centre in detail.
The FA has been praised by Norwegian football federation president Lise Klaveness – who questioned Qatar’s right to stage the World Cup during the FIFA Congress in Doha in March – as “a very constructive federation” in regard to this issue.
FIFA said in a statement: “FIFA takes note of the poll conducted on behalf of Amnesty International, featuring respondents from 10 countries in Europe and five countries from the rest of the world on the question of labour standards and protections in Qatar. Respondents may not be fully aware of the measures implemented in recent years by FIFA and its partners in Qatar to protect workers involved in the delivery of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
“As recognised by independent experts, such as the International Labour Organization and international unions, a wide range of measures have been implemented over the past years to improve protections for workers in Qatar, and these developments have come about largely as a consequence of the World Cup being played in the country.
“This also includes FIFA and its partners in Qatar applying pressure on companies when needed to ensure remediation of workers involved in FIFA World Cup preparations.
“Workers have been compensated in various forms where companies failed to uphold the Workers’ Welfare Standards of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), which is the standard used by FIFA and the host country to ensure the protection of workers involved in FIFA World Cup-related activities.
“These measures were complemented by the steps taken by the Ministry of Labour to enforce Qatari labour law and provide for access to remediation, such as through the Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund.
“FIFA will continue its efforts to enable remediation for workers who may have been adversely impacted in relation to FIFA World Cup-related work in accordance with its Human Rights Policy and responsibilities under relevant international standards.”
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