FIFA misleading the world on compensation to migrant workers, say four global rights organisationsAs the World Cup nears end, there has been no progress in providing compensation to injured workers who built the stadiums in Qatar and victims’ families.
The top football governing body, Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, has failed to fulfil its responsibility towards the migrant workers involved in the construction of the World Cup-related projects in Qatar, said four international human rights organisations on Monday.
“FIFA is still failing to fulfil its human rights responsibilities by refusing to commit to compensating migrant workers and their families for abuses while preparing and delivering the World Cup 2022 tournament in Qatar,” said Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, FairSquare, and Equidem.
A coalition of human rights and migrant rights organisations as well as football fans wrote an open letter to Gianni Infantino, president of FIFA, in May, calling for establishing a fund worth not less than $440 million, equal to the World Cup prize money, for the remedy of the injustices faced by the migrant workers.
Many migrant workers, including Nepalis, employed at World Cup-related projects have faced contract breaches, wage theft and discrimination, and forced labour in unsafe working conditions, according to human rights watchdogs.
Despite multiple assurances for addressing the demand regarding the compensation fund, FIFA, instead of making public the plans to materialise it, has announced a new ‘Legacy Fund’ that currently includes no provisions for workers’ compensation, said the rights organisation.
“Infantino’s comment that workers can simply access compensation through an existing mechanism in Qatar was misleading,” they said.
FIFA, in June, had assured the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Working Group on Workers’ Rights in Qatar that they are “looking into compensation mechanisms.”
Similarly, FIFA’s deputy secretary general Alasdair Bell had told a Council of Europe session on labour rights in Qatar in October that compensation was certainly something that they were interested in progressing with, according to the Associated Press, a US-based global news agency.
“It’s important to try to see that anyone who suffered injury as a consequence of working in the World Cup, is somehow redressed,” said Bell.
But in early November, Qatar’s Labour Minister Ali bin Samikh Al Marri rejected the demand for a compensation fund, calling it a "publicity stunt", according to Agence France-Presse, a Paris-based international news agency.
"This call for a duplicative FIFA-led compensation campaign is a publicity stunt," Marri had told the AFP. "Our door is open. We have dealt with and resolved a lot of cases."
Marri said that Qatar already had a fund to deal with worker deaths and injuries.
With less than a week remaining before the end of the championship, the organisations have called on FIFA to use the Legacy Fund to finance the compensation of workers and the families of those who died.
“FIFA had announced that it would establish the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Legacy Fund, to be used on education projects in developing countries,” said the Human Rights Watch. “Although the size of the fund is not yet known, previous legacy funds have been set at $100 million.”
Though Qatar has not yet made public the exact number of workers who lost their lives working on World Cup-related projects since it won the bid to host the World Cup in 2010, Hassan al-Thawadi, the secretary general of the Supreme Committee for delivery and legacy, which is responsible for the delivery of the World Cup, recently said in an interview that their numbers were between 400 and 500.