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What is the Role of Amnesty in the Compensation Fund for Migrant Workers regarding FIFA?

Story Highlights
  • Infantino’s response angered human rights activists.
  • Fifa and Qatar dismissed these concerns.
  • Amnesty stood its ground and asked for better conditions for workers.

Less than ten days before the start of the World Cup, Amnesty International has requested Gianni Infantino, the President of FIFA, to establish a compensation package for the migrant workers who worked in Qatar to develop the sparkling stadiums that will host the game.

Amnesty International and twenty-four other organizations, including Human Rights Watch, urged Infantino to create a reparation scheme for “abuses” experienced by employees in a letter sent to Infantino in May. 

According to the organizations, many migrant workers, the vast majority from Africa, South Asia, and South East Asia, have been exploited and subjected to severe labor violations.

Workers have expressed dissatisfaction with working long hours with no days off, having their salaries stolen or underpaid, and being subjected to conditions that amount to forced labor.

The Australian national team issued a video claiming that the decision to hold the football showcase tournament in Qatar had harmed some workers. Major World Cup sponsors such as Adidas, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s supported the initial call made by the Australian team.

Infantino’s response angered human rights activists.

Infantino enraged rights organizations earlier this month when he urged the 32 participating nations to “focus on the football” rather than the political situation in Qatar in a letter sent out at the beginning of November.

In addition to that, he instructed the groups to stop “handing out moral precepts.”

Fifa and Qatar dismissed these concerns.

According to FIFA, “worker-related due diligence procedures have prioritized steps to maintain the health and well-being of FIFA World Cup staff.” 

Independent inspections have been carried out regularly by Building and Woodworkers International (BWI), a worldwide labor organization representing construction workers, and Impact Ltd., a specialized consultant in labor problems. This information comes from the organization’s official statement.

A government official in Qatar said to AFP one month ago that plans for a compensation fund for migrant workers who were murdered or injured while working on World Cup construction projects are a “publicity gimmick” and that the nation would not change its stance on the issue.

Recently, Ali bin Samikh Al Marri, Qatar’s Minister of Labour, said that his government had already paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in back pay and labeled Qatar’s opponents “racist.” 

Amnesty stood its ground and asked for better conditions for workers.

According to Amnesty International, it has been a “common refrain” from both FIFA and the Qatari government that establishing and executing a reparations package would be impossible.

Secretary General Callamard said that the work was tough and cited “the number of personnel involved and the scale of atrocities perpetrated” as reasons. Nonetheless, she emphasized that the complexity of the situation should not be used as an excuse to put off taking essential actions. She stated, “At this point, we are asking for a firm promise from FIFA that those who have been exploited will be paid and that programs to prevent similar abuses be financed.”

There has to be a central location where workers can learn about the legal protections available to them and get assistance from legal professionals. There is no limit to what Infantino can do with only a few taps of his keyboard.

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