Pressure builds on Football Associations to step up for exploited workers

Forced Labor

On Wednesday England’s Football Association (FA) said families of abused migrant workers who have worked on key infrastructure for the Qatar World Cup should be compensated. Now, the FA must back this pledge up with specific support for a FIFA compensation fund for migrant workers.

Exploited workers behind the World Cup

Thousands of migrant workers involved in construction, hospitality and other key areas of infrastructure have suffered abuses including debt bondage, wage theft, being prevented from changing employers, forced to work excessive hours, and having identity documents withheld by unscrupulous employers. Thousands more have died due to unexplained causes.

Freedom United has joined the #PayUpFIFA campaign with Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and FairSquare calling on FIFA to set aside at least $440 million – equivalent to the prize money for teams participating in the tournament – for the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who have suffered human rights abuses over the course of the past twelve years in preparation for the World Cup.

What can Football Associations do?

As FAs participating in the World Cup and representing fans around the world, they have the power to pressure FIFA to ensure that there is a robust compensation and remedy plan in place for migrant workers and their families.

Felix Jakens, UK head of priority campaigns at Amnesty International said ”Today’s announcement is welcome, but the FA now needs to specifically support a FIFA compensation fund for abused workers and the families of those who’ve died to make the World Cup happen.”

Reuters reports:

Fair Square said it broadly welcomed the FA’s announcements but added the organisation’s measures to take a stand on issues surrounding the World Cup fall short of what is required.


“While the English FA’s support in principle for key issues is welcome, it falls well short on the detail and specificity that those affected by the World Cup need from participating nations.”

Under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, FIFA has a responsibility to respect human rights and seek to mitigate and remedy rights abuses irrespective of Qatar’s ability to stringently implement reforms to the kafala system and hold exploitative employers accountable.

Send a message to FAs now!

That’s why we’re urging FAs to make a public statement available on their website in support of migrant workers’ rights, compensation, and non-repetition of human rights abuses in future World Cups, and advocate with FIFA and Qatar to set up a remedy fund that could help to transform the lives of the migrant workers and their families.

Send a message to FAs today!

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