Six months before the FIFA World Cup in Qatar (November 21-December 18), the NGO Amnesty International released a report on Thursday May 19 on violations of ” human rights “ of which are victims “several hundred thousand” construction workers in the emirate.
This 62-page document, which The world has consulted, lists the “responsibilities”over a decade, of the International Football Federation (FIFA) in these “multiple serious and widespread abuses and violations of labor rights” : “payments of exorbitant and illegal recruitment fees not reimbursed”, “scams by abusive employers”, ” excessive hours », “forced labor”, “deaths which have rarely been investigated” and did not lead to compensation for the families of the victims.
“By awarding the World Cup to Qatar [le 2 décembre 2010] without enacting conditions or safeguards to enhance labor law protections, and subsequently failing to properly prevent or mitigate human rights violations, FIFA has contributed to a wide range of abuses to labor law that were avoidable and foreseeable (…) and paved the way for further violations,” affirms Amnesty International, which produced its report on the basis, in particular, of documents from FIFA, the Qatari organizing committee of the 2022 World Cup, and other international bodies, such as the UN or the International Labor Organization (ILO ).
FIFA accused of having discarded
The NGO recalls that the ” choice ” of Qatar in 2010 was “very controversial due to allegations of corruption, extreme heat and its disastrous human rights record”. “The risks for the workers were not even taken into account during the selection process of the host country” and were not included in the FIFA evaluation report, when the ” sanitary risks ” relating to the “extreme heat” have been taken into account for the “players, spectators, officials and the FIFA family. »
While the kafala system, which placed migrant workers under guardianship, remained in force in Qatar “until the end of 2018” and despite the “advanced”, the NGO accuses FIFA of not having neither prevented nor mitigated the risks of workplace abuse in the years following the awarding of the World Cup. »
She criticizes him for having waited until 2020 to exhibit ” its responsibilities precisely in the context “of the 2022 World Cup” through a long-term sustainability strategy and not having, for a long time, “publicly accepted any responsibility for the situation of migrant workers in the country”. “The measures taken proved to be too late and limited”considers the NGO.
“For years, FIFA has taken a hands-off approach and has relied heavily on the Organizing Committee to carry out its due diligence,” deplores the NGO.
To illustrate this “deeply problematic approach”she cites as an example the case, in 2020, “ about 100 employees of Qatar Meta Coats, a design and construction company subcontracting the works of the Al Bayt stadium, who have not been paid for almost seven months. “. “While the Organizing Committee had been aware of this case for almost a year, FIFA only became aware after being informed by Amnesty International. »
Call to fund “a reparations program”
According to the NGO, despite recent labor reforms launched in the emirate, “Structural problems persist” and “thousands of workers are still victims of abuse and exploitation”.
“FIFA and Qatar have clear obligations and responsibilities under international human rights law and international standards, not only to prevent such widespread human rights violations, but also to provide appropriate remedies. to the victims of these violationssays Amnesty International. To date, neither FIFA nor Qatar have fulfilled their respective responsibilities and obligations to provide reparations for the violations committed. »
“Just reimbursing the illegal recruitment fees of hundreds of thousands of workers, for example, will cost hundreds of millions of dollarsdevelops Amnesty International. Qatar, FIFA, the organizing committee and other actors, including companies, all have the responsibility, independently of each other, to contribute financially to a reparations programme. »
In its report, the NGO recommends the creation by FIFA of a “compensation fund” for workers or families of injured, injured or dead workers in Qatar. It invites the International Federation – endowed with a reserve of 1.6 billion dollars – to supply it with a “amount that is not less” to the premiums ($440 million) paid by the authority to the teams participating in the World Cup and to ” invest in programs to ensure that violations are not repeated in the future. »
Avoid “risky” countries in the future
“Qatar, which is one of the richest countries in the world per capita and has a sovereign wealth fund of more than $450 billion, must ensure that any program providing reparations to workers who were at the heart of its flagship project, as well as to all those who have suffered violations unrelated to the World Cup”says the NGO.
“The 2022 World Cup will be far from exemplary in terms of preventing harmconcludes Amnesty International, but if all the workers who suffered violations during the preparation, organization and implementation of its flagship event receive adequate redress, it can, despite everything, represent a turning point
in FIFA’s commitment to respecting human rights. »
Lastly, Amnesty International urges FIFA not to award the World Cup to a country in the future, if “risks identified cannot be avoided,” in regards to “abuses of workers’ rights, forced evictions, discrimination, restriction of freedom of expression and financial corruption”. If FIFA sent a written response on May 6 to the NGO, neither the Qatari government nor the Qatari organizing committee responded.
Contacted by The worldFIFA assures “ implement an unprecedented due diligence process in relation to the protection of workers involved in the 2022 World Cup in line with FIFA’s responsibility under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. »
FIFA’ welcomes the fact that Amnesty International and the other signatories of the report also acknowledge the progress made » and specifies that, « when companies working within the framework of the FIFA World Cup do not meet their obligations, FIFA and the Organizing Committee ensure that the harm is repaired by the entity that caused the impact. »
” As part of the organizing committee’s efforts to secure reimbursement of recruitment costs, for example, workers received payments totaling $22.6 million in December 2021, and contractors are committed to contributing an additional $5.7 million “, says FIFA.