FIFPro has added its voice to the debate surrounding the rights of migrant workers in Qatar ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup by stating that it is “deeply alarmed” by the latest reports on the issue.
The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee last week said that the Qatari government would study the allegations made by the UK’s Guardian newspaper about Nepalese workers in Qatar. FIFA said that it was “very concerned” by the report, which claimed that at least 44 workers had died between June 4 and August 8 because of heart-related issues or workplace accidents. FIFPro, the world professional footballers’ association, has now called on the international football community to act with “solidarity” to ensure that the 2022 World Cup is only delivered in accordance with football’s universal values as set out in the FIFA Statutes. Brendan Schwab, FIFPro Division Asia chairman and a FIFPro board member, said in a statement: “The 2022 FIFA World Cup was awarded to Qatar to promote football and, more importantly, football’s universal values in the Middle East. This can only be achieved if Qatar respects the rights of the key people who will deliver that World Cup: the workers who build the World Cup stadia and the players who play in them.”
As part of its bid to host the World Cup, Qatar pledged to build nine new stadia and refurbish three others, all in the space of 10 years and at a cost of US$4 billion. This work, along with other infrastructure development, is set to see the Gulf state undergo rapid change. However, concerns have repeatedly been expressed about working conditions for migrants. Indeed, in November 2011 FIFA pledged to help improve the rights of migrant workers building stadiums in the wake of threats from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to disrupt construction plans. FIFPro has called on FIFA to repeat the steps it took to combat child labour in the manufacture of footballs.
Schwab added: “It is inexcusable for workers’ lives to be sacrificed, especially given modern health and safety practices in the construction industry. FIFPro assumes that adherence to FIFA’s principles and international labour standards are conditions on which Qatar was awarded the extraordinary privilege of hosting football’s greatest event. FIFA has previously acted to ensure international labour standards are respected when it worked with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the fight against child labour in the manufacture of footballs. A similar initiative is urgently needed in Qatar. Further, independent workplace health and safety experts appointed by FIFA and the ILO must be permitted to inspect all worksites and make binding recommendations to ensure international labour standards are respected in Qatar.”