football fans holding scarves

Football fans urge FIFA to pay up for migrant worker abuses

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Forced Labor

Results from a survey commissioned by Amnesty International show that the majority of football fans are in favor of FIFA paying  $440 million in compensation to migrant workers who suffered abuses in bringing us the World Cup set to take place in Qatar.

Pressure from fans

17,000 fans from 15 countries responded to the survey with 73% stating that they would be in favor of compensation with only 10% opposed. A further 67% of respondents agree with the proposal that national Football Associations should publicly support calls for migrant worker compensation.

Amnesty International’s Head of Economic and Social Justice, Steve Cockburn, said: 

“Across the globe, people are united in their desire to see FIFA step up and make amends for the suffering endured by migrant workers in Qatar […] The past cannot be undone, but a compensation programme is a clear and simple way that FIFA and Qatar can provide at least some measure of redress to the hundreds of thousands of workers who made this tournament possible.”

Continuous reports of migrant worker exploitation, forced labor and wage theft have plagued the tournament set to take place in Qatar in just a couple of months. Pressure has been building on FIFA to take responsibility under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to address human rights abuses reported by migrant workers as a result of the World Cup.

Reuters reports:

Amnesty also called on FIFA and Qatar to establish a remediation programme to reimburse unpaid wages, recruitment fees paid by hundreds of thousands of workers and compensation for injuries and deaths.

“The programme should be established, and an initial meeting held between key stakeholders, before the tournament kicks off on 20 November 2022,” Amnesty said, adding that workers and trade unions should be involved in the programme.

Kafala and exploitation

The notorious kafala sponsorship system in Qatar governs migrant workers’ relationships with employers in the country, tying migrant workers’ immigration status to their employer.

Under this sponsorship system, which is present in many other countries, migrant workers are unable to change jobs or leave the country without their employer’s permission, leaving workers vulnerable to exploitation and becoming trapped in forced labor with no way out.

Over the past four years, the Qatari government has collaborated with the International Labour Organization to pass a series of legislative reforms to improve conditions for migrant workers, including abolishing restrictions on migrant workers changing jobs without their employer’s permission, introducing a monthly minimum wage, and a wage protection system. 

Migrant workers deported

However implementation has been weak and migrant workers continue to report instances of exploitation. Last week, we reported on investigations that uncovered how migrant workers are being deported from Qatar for demanding their unpaid wages.

We’re calling on Qatar to ensure the effective implementation of measures to protect migrant workers from exploitation, and support the call on FIFA to pay up. Join the campaign today.

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