Amnesty International has urged FIFA to earmark at least $440 million to compensate migrant workers who have suffered human rights abuses during their work at the 2022 World Cup facilities in Qatar.
In an open letter sent to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Amnesty International and a select group of other human rights groups said world football’s governing body should work with Qatar “to establish a comprehensive program to ensure that all labor abuses to which FIFA has contributed are addressed.”
“With six months remaining until the opening of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers have not received adequate compensation, including financial compensation for grave labour abuses suffered during the construction and maintenance of the infrastructure necessary for the preparation and delivery of the World Cup in Qatar.”
According to the organization, Qatari sponsorship system was at the centre of abuses of foreign workers’ rights because of their obligation to employers, preventing them from changing jobs or even leaving the country without their employer’s permission.
For many years, Amnesty International has documented and exposed labour abuse and exploitation of low-paid migrant workers in Qatar.
Wage theft is one of the most frequent abuses faced by migrant workers, and Amnesty International alone has documented cases of thousands of workers who have not received their salaries and benefits.
Amnesty International adds that these delays can be devastating for workers, especially as they are not only supporting themselves, but also their families in their countries of origin.
Unexplained deaths of workers
Since 2010, thousands of migrant workers have died suddenly and unexpectedly in Qatar, despite undergoing medical examinations before traveling to the country.
Although there is evidence of links between premature deaths and unsafe working conditions, Qatari authorities have failed to investigate the underlying causes of such deaths and, as a result, bereaved families are left unaware of what happened to their loved ones and denied access to compensation from employers or Qatari authorities.
Some migrant workers are forced to work extremely long hours and are denied rest days under the threat of cutting their wages. This can amount to forced labour, for example security guards told Amnesty International that they had to work regularly 12 hours a day, seven days a week without a single day off for consecutive months and even years on end and if they take a day off weekly, they risk deducting their employer’s wages by up to six days.
Amnesty International states that Qatar has tried to introduce reforms, but so far thousands of workers continue to be subjected to abuse and daily exploitation, employers continue to control their livelihood, and they can cancel workers’ visas or charge them with ” absconding ” if they try to change jobs, putting them at risk of arrest and deportation.
There are also thousands of people whose wages are stolen, as well as unsafe working and living conditions, and sometimes insurmountable barriers to job change.
The formation and membership of unions is prohibited for fear of joining the collective struggle for their rights, while justice evades them and compensation for violations remains rare.
The impact of all these failures also means that past abuses went unchecked and neither the victim nor her family received compensation for the suffering they had suffered, nor adequate compensation for the deaths caused.
Amnesty International stresses that FIFA should keep at least $440 million in prize money given to teams participating in the World Cup, to compensate workers, and invest it in initiatives to improve workers’ protection for the future.
The British press revealed that the Crown Prince of the United Kingdom, Prince Charles, re…