Sunday, April 21, 2024

FIFA misleading world on remedy for migrant workers: Human rights groups

Human rights groups, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, FairSquare, and Equidem on Monday accused the global football governing body, FIFA, of still failing to fulfil its human rights responsibilities by refusing to compensate migrant workers and their families for abuses while preparing and delivering the World Cup 2022 tournament in Qatar.

The issue of labour abuses of migrant workers in Qatar has been in the spotlight since the rich Arab nation won the right to host the tournament in 2010. The statement from rights groups comes as the tournament moves to the final stage.

“Since June 2022, following a coalition of organizations’ call for remedy for migrant workers, FIFA indicated in a series of communications that it was committed to identifying ways to compensate migrant workers who faced deaths, injuries, and rampant wage theft, and to support an independent migrant workers’ centre, as part of a legacy program,” the joint statement said.

The organisations say FIFA failed to release any plan as promised and instead announced a new ‘Legacy Fund’ that currently includes no provision for workers’ compensation.

Last week, Qatar’s World Cup CEO, ” Nasser Al Khater faced criticism for saying “death is a natural part of life” when addressing the death of a migrant worker hired for repairs at a tournament facility.

The Filipino national died in a forklift truck accident after slipping off a ramp and hitting his head on a concrete floor, according to reports. Qatar has announced they are investigating if any safety lapse caused the accident.

“FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, also made misleading comments that workers can simply access compensation through an existing mechanism in Qatar when this mechanism is in fact not set up to provide compensation on any meaningful scale related to deaths, injuries, and historic wage theft, rights group accused,” the statement on HRW website said.

FIFA is set to generate $7.5 billion from this tournament.

“FIFA’s egregious whitewashing of serious abuses against migrant workers in Qatar is both a global embarrassment and a sinister tactic to escape its human rights responsibility to compensate thousands of workers who faced abuse and the families of those who died to make this World Cup possible,” said Tirana Hassan, acting executive director at Human Rights Watch.

“The Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund, operationalized in 2020, has been used to compensate workers for wage theft after employers failed to pay out following labour court rulings in workers’ favour.

But the fund is not currently set up to be able to provide compensation on any meaningful scale related to deaths, injuries, and historic wage theft in the decade before it was operationalized.”

“FIFA also owes a public explanation on why it switched from “considering” the proposal for a remedy to dismissing it completely,” it added.

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