Over 200 national Football Associations are due to meet on March 16 for the first time since the World Cup final in December, putting the call to FIFA for migrant worker compensation back on the table.
Norway Football Association taking the lead
Norwegian football officials are expected to raise the issue of migrant worker exploitation and migrant worker deaths on World Cup projects through its proposal at the meeting calling for “a commitment to assess whether it has fulfilled its responsibility to remedy related to the 2022 World Cup, including an investigation into World Cup-related deaths and injuries, and if not, how this responsibility can be fulfilled.”
A Qatari government fund used mainly to reimburse unpaid wages was, the Norwegian soccer federation said, “neither accessible to workers who have left the country nor able to support families of workers who have died because those deaths were not investigated.”
FIFA inaction is unacceptable
Thousands of migrant workers were involved in construction, hospitality and other key areas of infrastructure required for the World Cup to take place in Qatar. Qatar spent $200 billion on the tournament.
Meanwhile, workers reportedly suffered widespread abuses including debt bondage, wage theft, being prevented from changing employers, forced to work excessive hours, and having identity documents withheld by unscrupulous employers.
Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice, Steve Cockburn, said “This is an opportunity for Gianni Infantino, FIFA’s president, to finally put things right for the workers that made the tournament possible”.
As part of the #PayUpFIFA campaign over 5,000 in the Freedom United community called on national Football Associations to pressure FIFA to set aside $440 million to recompense exploited workers and support the families who relied on remittances from their loved ones who died in Qatar.
But FIFA refused to set up a support fund for migrant workers who suffered abuses working on key World Cup projects and referenced that there would be a “labor excellence hub” instead, the details of which remain unclear.
The reality for migrant workers
The reality is that significant barriers remain for migrant workers to leave exploitative work. Some workers are unaware of the recent reforms while others are unsure of their rights under Qatari law. While mechanisms exist for workers to report disputes, this can be very time consuming, and can result in retaliation against workers. Workers continue to report being threatened with deportation from employers if they want to leave their job with little being done to hold employers accountable.
Freedom United welcomes efforts from Norway’s Football Federation to demand justice for migrant workers and we urge FIFA to compensate workers and the families of those who died.
We must keep exposing the realities for migrant workers in Qatar who have suffered abuse including forced labor, and continue to report widespread exploitation such as unpaid wages and early contract termination. Sign the petition today.
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