The World Cup may drawing to a close but we aren’t ending the call for migrant workers to be compensated for their work and abuse they suffered while doing so. Freedom United and Be Slavery Free, representing over 107,000 global supporters around the world, are calling on FIFA and Qatari authorities to take action for migrant workers. Read our open letter here.
This week, dozens of Nepalese NGOs sent an open letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino asking him to “focus on the workers”.
Don’t look the other way
Nepali NGOs warned Infantino that they did not start their advocacy because of the World Cup nor would they stop once it was over and that he should not “look the other way” but rather use his “financial and political resources” to compensate the workers and their families.
Amnesty International reports,
Around 400,000 workers from Nepal are employed across a range of sectors in Qatar and have played a huge part in building the vast infrastructure projects required to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
While remittances from working abroad are important to the economy, Nepalis who have travelled to work in the Gulf and elsewhere have regularly suffered a range of labour abuses. Nepali workers typically have little choice but to pay illegal recruitment fees of over $1,000 to secure their jobs, and human rights organizations have regularly documented cases of forced labour and unpaid wages, including at sites linked to the World Cup.
Workers have also lost their lives due to dangerous working conditions, and their deaths have rarely been investigated. A peer-reviewed study found that the deaths of at least 200 Nepali construction workers could have been prevented between 2009 and 2017 with adequate protection from extreme heat.
Advocates have been joined by 12 football associations and four FIFA sponsors in calling for a FIFA compensation program. Infantino has announced a Legacy Fund would be set up for “educational projects” and “labor excellence hub”.
This fund could potentially be used to support migrant workers but it does not seem likely as Infantino has told aggrieved persons to “contact the relevant authorities”. He appears indifferent to the fact that FIFA is actually obligated, under the UN guiding principles on business and human rights, to uphold fundamental rights and to ensure that any violations thereof are remedied.
Don’t let the last whistle blow on this movement
Prior to the start of the World Cup, Infantino attempted to paint a false picture of who is advocating for migrant workers in Qatar – claiming it was an agenda of “the West”. But the movement spans the globe and the persons at the front and center are migrant workers themselves and their families.
The Freedom United community will not stop pushing for migrant workers’ rights. Now that the World Cup has come to an end, the world’s eyes will turn elsewhere but we must remain focused and keep the pressure up.