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Qatar: FIFA must publish compensation plans for abused 2022 World Cup workers

#PayUpFifa billboard in Kathmandu, Nepal in December 2022 © NagarLachhu

FIFA still sitting on an independent human rights review into providing remedy for hundreds of thousands of abused migrant workers  

Call comes ahead of FIFA’s annual congress meeting next week

‘FIFA cannot simply move on to other tournaments leaving suffering in its wake’ - Steve Cockburn

FIFA should immediately publish and act on a review it received five months ago assessing its human rights responsibilities towards migrant workers harmed delivering the 2022 men’s World Cup in Qatar, Amnesty International said today.

With FIFA due to hold its annual congress in Bangkok next week, Amnesty understands that an independent review - which was announced by FIFA last year and had its findings approved by FIFA’s council in March - recognises FIFA’s responsibility to remedy a significant range of abuses endured by migrant workers while helping Qatar host the 2022 World Cup.

Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers suffered grievously while working to deliver the Qatar World Cup, with extreme heat and unsafe working conditions leading to many workers losing their lives. The Qatari authorities failed to investigate the deaths of thousands of workers across the country in the decade leading up to the tournament.

Other workers paid extortionate recruitment fees for jobs but were later cheated out of the money they were promised and endured appalling working conditions or other abuses, including forced labour. The situation has left many financially and emotionally shattered and unable to rebuild their lives.

By awarding the tournament to Qatar in 2010 without first ensuring sufficient safeguards were in place to protect human rights, FIFA contributed to more than a decade of abuses which have still not been remedied. In recent years, FIFA has made reforms to its statutes and guidelines to better acknowledge its human rights obligations but serious doubts remain about its commitment to uphold them. 

Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Head of Labour Rights and Sport, said: 

“Ahead of its annual congress next week FIFA should make public the review it ordered into the organisation’s responsibilities to redress human rights abuses related to the 2022 World Cup and respond positively and rapidly to its recommendations. 

“FIFA received this review months ago but has yet to disclose or act on its findings. 

“This delay only prolongs the suffering of families who lost loved ones, and workers who were abused, while delivering FIFA’s flagship event.

“FIFA cannot erase this pain but it can set out a clear plan to deliver justice and commit some of its vast resources towards remedying the harms it has contributed to.

“The contents of the report may make uncomfortable reading for FIFA but there is overwhelming public support for it to act and no excuse for stalling any longer. 

“A commitment to remedying the abuses related to the last World Cup would be a vital step towards FIFA finally fulfilling its human rights responsibilities and could be life-changing for workers and their families.

“FIFA cannot simply move on to other tournaments leaving suffering in its wake, not least when the opportunity to finally put things right is within its grasp.

“It is past time for FIFA to publish the review, fully address abuses related to the last World Cup and finally deliver for the workers who made the tournament possible.”

Public support for compensation

Polling has shown broad public support for FIFA to establish a mechanism to compensate workers abused in Qatar, and for human rights to be a vital consideration in FIFA’s future selection of all tournament hosts. Currently, victims’ access to a fund set up by the Qatari authorities in 2020 is rife with obstacles. Payments are capped and it is nearly impossible for workers or families to apply to it after they’ve returned to their home countries. Amnesty and the #PayUpFIFA coalition have campaigned for FIFA to establish and finance its own compensation scheme, and called for FIFA’s 2022 World Cup Legacy Fund to be used to remediate abuses. The Qatar World Cup was FIFA’s most profitable ever tournament, making more than £6 billion. 

FIFA is currently considering awarding hosting rights for the 2030 and 2034 men’s World Cup tournaments, with a joint bid from Spain, Portugal and Morocco the only one submitted for 2030, and Saudi Arabia the sole bidder for 2034.

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