Less than ten days before the World Cup in Qatar begins, Amnesty International has urged FIFA President Gianni Infantino to promise a compensation package for the migrant workers who constructed the competition’s dazzling venues.
Amnesty, along with 24 other organizations, including Human Rights Watch, wrote to Infantino in May pleading with him to create a program to address “abuses” that employees have experienced.
According to the NGOs, several migrant workers have experienced rampant labor abuses and exploitation, the most of them are from South Asia, South-East Asia, and Africa.
Employees have complained of excessive hours without days off, forced labor-like working conditions, and lost and unpaid wages.
Adidas, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s, among other World Cup sponsors, have endorsed the initial request, and the Australian national team has made a video in which it claims that certain workers have been harmed as a result of the choice to hold football’s premier event in Qatar.
In an opinion piece that was published in worldwide media on Friday, Agnes Callamard, the secretary general of Amnesty International, stated: “Amid this mounting clamor, the most crucial voice of all has stayed glaringly silent: Gianni Infantino.
Infantino has persistently avoided the subject, other from a few platitudes, despite private and public statements from FIFA stating that they are ‘evaluating the proposal. He still hasn’t replied to our united letter, unfortunately.
In a letter earlier this month, Infantino infuriated rights organizations by urging the 32 competing nations in Qatar to “concentrate on the football.”
Additionally, he advised the teams to quit “distributing moral messages”.
While calling the letter “a vulgar attempt at shirking FIFA’s complicity for these abuses and obligation towards these workers,” Callamard acknowledged that Infantino had “presided over a remarkable shift in the governing body’s commitment to human rights.”
In the op-ed, she stated that “enshrined in (FIFA’s) own policies is a responsibility to redress human rights abuses it has contributed to.
Given Qatar’s well-documented history of violating labor laws, FIFA was aware of — or ought to have known about — the risks to employees before it granted the country the tournament.
A official in Qatar told AFP last month that requests for a compensation fund for migrant workers killed or injured on World Cup projects were a “publicity gimmick” and that the country had rejected the idea.
Ali bin Samikh Al Marri, Qatar’s minister of labor, said that the Gulf state previously paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in outstanding salaries and accused those who criticized it of “racist.”
A solution package would be difficult to create and implement, according to Amnesty, who said that this was a “familiar refrain” from FIFA and the Qatari government.
Secretary General Callamard said, “Yes, the number of people and the magnitude of the abuses implicated make this a complicated undertaking: but this must not be used as an excuse for inaction or further delay.
At this point, she continued, “what we are asking for is a firm assurance from FIFA that programs to stop future abuses would be financed and that harmed workers will receive compensation.”
“A center where employees can learn about their legal rights and get aid and counsel from attorneys should be part of this. All of this may be accomplished with a single penstroke from Infantino.”
Alasdair Bell, the deputy secretary general of FIFA, said in an October speech to the Council of Europe that “it was important to try to see that anyone who suffered injury as consequence of working in the World Cup… is somehow redressed” and added that it was “something that we’re interested in progressing.”