Will the Qatar World Cup be built on the backs of migrant building workers?
Amid all the furore about alleged corruption in FIFA – who demanded what and what did people offer – a more mundane corruption might get overlooked. The international trade union movement’s Playfair campaign is dedicated to rooting out the human suffering associated with global sporting events like the World Cup. Today, the ITUC has issued a report which calls on FIFA to confront the terrible working conditions facing the vast majority of construction workers in Qatar, where several football stadiums will be built before the 2022 World Cup.
The report details the working and living conditions of the mainly Indian, Pakistani and Nepalese workers in the gleaming cities of Doha and Dubai. Including interviews with workers and human rights activists, the report describes the appalling living conditions of the workers in huge segregated mostly male townships. The ITUC is writing to FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Qatar’s FIFA delegate, construction magnate Mohamed Bin Hammam, calling for the organisations to explain how they will protect the hundreds of thousands of workers who will be subject to unsafe and unregulated working conditions on construction sites, with no independent unions or effective safety inspection. FIFA requires football manufacturers to respect workers’ rights in its licensing programme, but has no such standards for companies building World Cup venues.
The report states that:
“The migrants have few chances of escaping from abusive employers. A system known as Kafala binds foreign workers to the local companies that sponsored their travel to the Gulf nations.”