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Volume 7 No. 83
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FIFA Urged To Press Qatar Government About Kafala System's Impact On Workers

FIFA "has been urged by its own advisory board on human rights to press the government in Qatar about the impact of the kafala system on workers building stadiums" for the 2022 World Cup, which campaigners have described as "modern slavery," according to David Conn of the London GUARDIAN. The number of workers in Qatar, brought in from "poorer countries such as India, Nepal and Bangladesh" and employed to build eight new stadiums for the tournament, "is expected to rise from 12,000 to 36,000 over the next year." The report calls on FIFA to "press for improved inspection of conditions and a review of required standards." The recommendation regarding kafala is "that Fifa actively explores ways to use its leverage to engage with the host government about the impact of the kafala system on migrant workers involved in World Cup construction." The report is the first from the advisory board of eight int'l human rights experts, set up following a report last year by professor John Ruggie into how FIFA "could meet its responsibilities" under the United Nations' guiding principles on business and human rights (GUARDIAN, 11/9). The BBC's Dan Roan wrote the report includes 33 recommendations. The advisory board said, "Our first report sets a baseline. We recognise that Fifa has taken important steps, particularly by adopting a new Human Rights Policy, fighting discrimination connected to matches and integrating human rights requirements into the 2026 Fifa World Cup bidding documents. We also make 33 detailed recommendations on issues Fifa should focus on, including, as a priority, building on what has been done to date by continuing to strengthen efforts to address risks to workers' rights on World Cup stadium construction sites in Russia and Qatar" (BBC, 11/9).

'MONITORING SYSTEMS': REUTERS' Simon Evans reported FIFA set up what it calls "monitoring systems" for construction work in Russia and Qatar, but the board said that "information on the results of their operation and findings should be made public." It said, "This is essential to build greater stakeholder trust in the work that is already being done, as well as plans to address remaining gaps and challenges." Qatar "is keen to show it is tackling allegations of worker exploitation" and the Int'l Labour Organization on Wednesday "dropped a case against the Gulf state over its treatment of foreign workers" (REUTERS, 11/9).

NO TIME TO WASTE: The PA reported Amnesty Int'l called the first report from FIFA's new human rights advisory board a "wake-up call" for the governing body. Amnesty Int'l Deputy Dir of Global Issues James Lynch said, "This report should be a wake-up call for FIFA, which has held back from using its considerable leverage with regard to Qatar's abusive sponsorship system (for migrant workers). This is FIFA's own, independent human rights advisory board telling it to take a clear position on Qatar's abusive laws, and to act on that. That work should start urgently. ... It is disappointing that the report doesn't call for FIFA to press Qatar to carry out an investigation related to the deaths of migrant workers and to abolish the exit permit. We would expect the next report to be far more explicit on FIFA's responsibilities around these issues" (PA, 11/9).