FIFA Congress: English and Welsh FAs should push FIFA on Qatar workers' compensation fund

A billboard in Kathmandu, Nepal, December 2022 © NagarLachhu

Norwegian FA has tabled human rights proposal ahead of FIFA’s meeting in Rwanda this month

Thousands of migrant workers suffered serious human rights violations in Qatar connected to World Cup 

‘We’d like to see the English or Welsh FAs strongly pushing back on Gianni Infantino’s much-criticised injunction to “focus on the football”’ - Peter Frankental 

Reacting to the growing pressure on FIFA from its own members - led by the Norwegian Football Association - for it to remedy human rights abuses connected to the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar, Amnesty International’s Head of Economic and Social Justice Steve Cockburn said:

“With so many of Qatar’s migrant workers still lacking any compensation for abuses suffered ahead of the 2022 World Cup, it is encouraging to see FIFA members asking the organisation to discuss remedies by putting it on the agenda at its upcoming congress.

“Despite widespread concern among football associations, players and sponsors, FIFA has still failed to commit to ensuring that migrant workers - who suffered wage theft, illegal recruitment fees, injuries and even death connected to the hosting of the tournament in Qatar - are compensated for their suffering. 

“On the eve of the tournament, FIFA announced the establishment of the 2022 World Cup Legacy Fund - however it remains unclear how this will be used, and whether any of it will be deployed to remediate abuses. For any meaningful legacy, workers and their families must benefit directly from this fund. 

“FIFA has so far sought to pass the buck on its human rights responsibilities, putting its faith in Qatar’s own remediation mechanisms, which in their current form are incapable of delivering remedy on the scale required - not least to workers who have already left the country, or families who have lost loved ones. 

“It is past time for FIFA to be held accountable for its human rights commitments and for it to respond with a clear action plan that will deliver justice for workers and their families.

“This is an opportunity for Gianni Infantino, FIFA’s president, to finally put things right for the workers that made the tournament possible.” 

Norwegian proposal

The Norwegian FA has tabled a proposal ahead of the 16 March FIFA congress in the Rwandan capital Kigali that migrant workers should be compensated for abuses they suffered in the lead-up to the 2022 World Cup. This proposal has been accepted by the FIFA Council, its executive body. Evidence from a long campaign shows that an effective remedy fund and an independent migrant workers’ centre are widely supported by the global public, football associations, sponsors, political leaders and players

Last May, Amnesty called on FIFA to set aside at least $440 million for the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who had suffered human rights abuses in Qatar during preparations for the World Cup. The sum - the same as the prize money handed out at the competition - represented only a small fraction of the $7.5bn total revenue FIFA said it expected to make in the four-year cycle leading up to Qatar2022. Amnesty has estimated that the sum of $440m is likely to be the minimum necessary to cover compensation costs and to support initiatives to protect workers’ rights in the future. However, said Amnesty, the total sum for reimbursing unpaid wages, the extortionate recruitment fees paid by hundreds of thousands of workers, and compensation for injuries and deaths could end up being higher and should be evaluated as part of a participatory process with unions, civil society organisations, the International Labour Organisation and others.

English and Welsh FAs

The English and Welsh players and FAs made supportive comments about human rights in Qatar, with the captains of both teams intending to wear a European teams’ “OneLove” inclusivity armband at the competition before a last-minute ban imposed by FIFA. 

Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK’s Economic Affairs Director, said:

“The English and Welsh FAs both signalled their support for human rights in Qatar ahead of the World Cup and now they should push FIFA over belatedly funding a comprehensive worker remediation scheme. 

“Behind the hype over the ‘best ever’ tournament there’s the brutal reality that Qatar2022 was built on the suffering of thousands of migrant workers and took place in a country where LGBTQ+ people are persecuted, and freedom of speech and women’s rights are unacceptably curtailed. 

“In Kigali, we’d like to see the English or Welsh FAs strongly pushing back on Gianni Infantino’s much-criticised injunction to ‘focus on the football’ and instead support efforts to reposition FIFA as a footballing body able and willing to fulfil its human rights obligations.”

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