Qatar 2022 World Cup Workers 'Treated Like Cattle', Amnesty Claim

Qatar 2022 World Cup Workers 'Treated Like Cattle', Amnesty Claim
FIFA President Sepp Blatter (R) and the Chairman of Qatar 2022 bid committee Sheik Mohammed bin Hamad al-Thani (L) hold a press conference on November 9, 2013 in Doha, Qatar
FIFA President Sepp Blatter (R) and the Chairman of Qatar 2022 bid committee Sheik Mohammed bin Hamad al-Thani (L) hold a press conference on November 9, 2013 in Doha, Qatar

Fifa's decision to name Qatar as hosts for the 2022 World Cup is looking increasingly unjustifiable after human rights group Amnesty International claimed Nepalese workers were "treated like cattle" in the country.

Amnesty has urged Fifa to take a stance against the "abuse of migrant workers" in a 166-page report which was released on Sunday.

The document details how workers arriving in Qatar to work on construction projects related to the tournament in nine years' time are subjected to "non-payment of wages, harsh and dangerous working conditions, and shocking standards of accommodation".

Migrant labourers, some who were "treated like cattle" work on a construction site

Amnesty International's secretary general Salil Shetty said: "Our findings indicate an alarming level of exploitation in the construction sector in Qatar.

"Fifa has a duty to send a strong public message that it will not tolerate human rights abuses on construction projects related to the World Cup.

"Qatar is recruiting migrant workers at a remarkable rate to support its construction boom, with the population increasing at 20 people an hour. Many migrants arrive in Qatar full of hopes, only to have these crushed soon after they arrive. There's no time to delay - the government must act now to end this abuse.

"Construction companies and the Qatari authorities alike are failing migrant workers. Employers in Qatar have displayed an appalling disregard for the basic human rights of migrant workers. Many are taking advantage of a permissive environment and lax enforcement of labour protections to exploit construction workers.

"The world's spotlight will continue to shine on Qatar in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup, offering the government a unique chance to demonstrate on a global stage that they are serious about their commitment to human rights and can act as a role model to the rest of the region."

Based on two recent investigations in Qatar and numerous interviews, the report found workers living in overcrowded accommodation, occasionally bereft of running water.

Several workers were left feeling suicidal, while others were unable to return home and have suffered "severe psychological distress". One manager referred to workers as "the animals". Nepalese workers employed by said they were treated like cattle and working up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week, in temperatures up to 45C.

FIFA 2022 World Cup Bid In Doha

Qatar 2022

In response, Amnesty International received a letter dated 9 October, 2013, from FIFA vice-president Jérôme Valcke, in which he wrote: "The topic of labour rights and working conditions in Qatar was included by our president in the agenda of the recent FIFA Executive Committee meeting held in Zurich on 3/4 October. As a result, Mr Blatter will once again bring this matter to the attention of Qatar's highest authorities.

"In previous official statements and in communication with human rights organisations in the past, FIFA has made very clear that we uphold the respect for human rights and the application of international norms of behaviour as a principle and part of all our activities. FIFA shares and understands Amnesty International's efforts towards social justice and respect for human rights and dignity, which are very much anchored in the statutes and purpose of our organisation.

"We firmly believe in the positive power that the FIFA World Cup can have in Qatar and in the Middle East as a great opportunity for the region to discover football as a platform for positive social change, including an improvement of labour rights and conditions for migrant workers.

"Despite the current main focus of our work being the 2014 and 2018 World Cups in Brazil and Russia, we will strengthen our exchanges with the Qatar 2022 Local Organising Committee and will continue to promote dialogue between them, the Qatari Ministry of Labour, ILO and civil liberty organisations. It is FIFA's aim that the host countries of our flagship event ensure healthy, safe and dignified working conditions for all - nationals and foreigners, including construction workers - involved in the preparation of the event."


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