Undoubtedly, FIFA has been complicit in the abuse of migrant workers throughout Qatar’s preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Although they have set up a compensation fund, it is unclear how this will be implemented or how much money will be available to those who have suffered abuse.
Human rights groups have accused FIFA, the world governing body of football, of whitewashing migrant worker abuses in Qatar through its use of “sinister” tactics and protecting its reputation.
They argue that FIFA should take more responsibility for ensuring that all workers are treated fairly and compensated appropriately for any mistreatment or injuries they suffer on the job. So far, however, FIFA has shown little inclination to do anything beyond establishing a fund that may not provide adequate relief to victims.
Since awarding the World Cup to Qatar in 2010, FIFA has been widely criticized for not doing enough to address allegations that hundreds of thousands of migrant workers are being exploited in the construction sector. The treatment of migrant workers in Qatar 2022, before and during the World Cup, has been a concern for many.
The appalling and extreme working conditions that migrant workers are subjected to in Qatar have been well documented, raising serious questions about the country’s readiness to host the World Cup.
The Guardian newspaper reported that more than 6,500 people died from these conditions in Qatar. This shocking figure reveals the actual cost of having this major sporting event occur in a country with a blatant disregard for human rights.
Migrant laborers continue to face exploitation and abuse from their employers and are often denied fundamental rights such as adequate food or water, medical care, and decent housing conditions.
Many are forced into dangerous labor situations – like construction – where they can easily fall victim to workplace accidents with little legal recourse.
However, the Supreme Committee of Qatar has strenuously refuted this estimate, with the organization’s general secretary, Hassan al-Thawadi, claiming last month that the actual count was “between 400 and 500.”
It was alleged that the migrant worker died last week while conducting repairs at the location that served as FIFA’s World Cup hub in Saudi Arabia.
In response to mounting calls for compensation, Qatar established the Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund in 2018, which it claims has disbursed more than $350 million to people in need, mainly to address a problem with late or non-payment of salaries.
FIFA and the International Labor Organization (ILO) have announced a Legacy Fund that will be financed by a portion of the commercial revenue from the World Cup in order to “share best practices in labour matters and support adherence to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights when hosting FIFA tournaments.”
“FIFA’s egregious whitewashing of serious abuses against migrant workers in Qatar is both a global embarrassment and a sinister tactic to escape its human rights responsibility to compensate thousands of workers who faced abuse and the families of those who died to make this World Cup possible,” human rights watch’s interim director Tirana Hassan stated.
“FIFA continues to cash in on billions of dollars in revenue but refuses to offer a single cent for the families of migrant workers who died or those workers who were cheated out of their wages.” (Olley, 2022)
On Monday, the Migrant Rights Coalition issued a statement saying that until 2020, the Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund “is not currently set up to be able to provide compensation on any meaningful scale related to deaths, injuries, and historic wage theft in the decade before it was operationalised.”
It continued: “Qatari authorities have also failed to provide disaggregated details about the announced $350 million reimbursed to migrant workers for wage theft, despite repeated requests by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
“In addition, research has also shown that victims’ access to existing compensation mechanisms is rife with obstacles, payments are capped, and that it is nearly impossible for workers or families to apply after they have returned to their home countries.” (Olley, 2022)
Qatar must ensure that all workers are treated fairly and humanely – regardless of nationality or occupation – if it wants to avoid having its reputation permanently tarnished by this significant sporting event.
The alliance further claims that the labor excellence center should include “access to a remedy” in working conditions, as this is one of the UN’s Guiding Principles to which FIFA has officially committed.
“World Cup workers and their relatives are contacting us demanding compensation for unpaid wages, recruitment charges, and other harms, including deaths,” a chief executive officer at Equidem Mustafa Qadri said.
“Rather than shifting the goal posts, FIFA and Qatar should heed these calls. The tournament has been mired by worker deaths and exploitation and significant restrictions on freedom of expression and solidarity with the LGBTI + community. This is an opportunity for FIFA and Qatar to end the tournament with a positive legacy for the women and men who have made it possible.”