Amnesty pleads for FIFA to compensate World Cup migrant workers
Human rights organization Amnesty International calls on FIFA to offer compensation for migrant workers that were abused during working on the 2022 Qatar World Cup projects.
Human rights organization Amnesty International has made an urgent plea less than 10 days before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar kicks off for FIFA President Gianni Infantino to commit to a compensation package for the migrant workers who built the tournament's stadiums.
Amnesty and 24 other groups including Human Rights Watch wrote to Infantino in May urging him to establish a remediation program for abuses suffered by workers.
The groups said that many migrant workers -- predominantly from South Asia and South-East Asia and Africa -- have suffered exploitation and widespread labour abuses. Workers have complained of working conditions that amount to forced labour, lost and unpaid wages, and long hours without days off.
Amnesty International's Secretary General Agnes Callamard said in an op-ed published in international media on Friday that "Amid this growing clamour, the most crucial voice of all has remained conspicuously silent: Gianni Infantino."
Callamard pointed out that "Despite private and public assurances from FIFA that they are 'considering the proposal', Infantino, a few platitudes aside, has consistently dodged the topic. To date, he has provided no response to our joint letter."
In a letter earlier this month, Infantino angered rights groups by calling for the 32 nations competing in Qatar to "focus on the football."
The FIFA President also urged the teams to stop "handing out moral lessons."
While Callamard said that Infantino had "presided over a notable shift in the governing body's approach to human rights," describing the letter as "a crass attempt at shirking FIFA's culpability for these abuses and responsibility towards these workers."
Amnesty International's Secretary General considered that "Given the well-documented history of labor rights abuses in Qatar, FIFA knew -- or should have known -- the obvious risks to workers when it awarded Qatar the tournament."
On its part, Qatar has rejected calls for a compensation fund for migrant workers killed or injured on World Cup projects.
Qatari Labour Minister Ali bin Samikh Al-Marri claimed that his country was already handing out hundreds of millions of dollars for unpaid wages, and accused the Gulf state's critics of "racism".
"All we are calling for at this stage is a cast-iron commitment from FIFA that abused workers will be compensated and that programs to prevent further abuses are funded," Callamard clarified.
"This should include a center where workers can learn about their rights and seek legal assistance and advice. All of this can be done at the stroke of Infantino’s pen," she added.