Amnesty asks FIFA to pay migrant workers at the World Cup.

Amnesty asks FIFA to pay migrant workers at the World Cup.
Amnesty asks FIFA to pay migrant workers at the World Cup.
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Less than 10 days before the World Cup in Qatar begins, Amnesty International has urged FIFA President Gianni Infantino to promise a compensation package for the migrant workers who constructed the competition’s dazzling venues.

Amnesty, along with 24 other organizations, including Human Rights Watch, wrote to Infantino in May pleading with him to create a program to address “abuses” that employees had experienced.

According to the organizations, a large number of migrant workers have experienced widespread labor abuses and exploitation, most of them from South Asia, South-East Asia, and Africa.

Employees have expressed dissatisfaction with their working circumstances, which they claim equate to forced labor, lost and underpaid salaries, and long hours without breaks.

Adidas, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s, among other World Cup sponsors, have endorsed the initial request, and the Australian national team has made a film in which it claims that certain employees have been harmed as a result of Qatar’s decision to host football’s premier event.

Agnes Callamard, the secretary general of Amnesty Worldwide, wrote in an opinion piece that was published in international media on Friday: “Amid this mounting clamor, the most important voice of all has stayed glaringly silent: Gianni Infantino.

Infantino has persistently avoided the subject, other than a few platitudes, despite private and public statements from FIFA stating that they are ‘evaluating the suggestion’. He still hasn’t replied to our united letter, unfortunately.

In a letter earlier this month, Infantino infuriated rights organizations by urging the 32 participating nations in Qatar to “concentrate on the football.”

While Callamard acknowledged that Infantino had “presided over a noteworthy improvement in the governing body’s commitment to human rights,” she referred to that letter as “a vulgar effort at shirking FIFA’s involvement for these abuses and responsibilities towards these employees.”

She said in the op-ed that “enshrined in [FIFA’s] own policies is a responsibility to redress human rights atrocities it has contributed to.”

“FIFA knew — or should have known — the obvious risks to workers when it awarded Qatar the tournament, given the well-documented history of labor rights abuses in Qatar.

The worldwide governing organization reacted by stating that the working conditions met all criteria.

According to FIFA, “measures to preserve the health and well-being of FIFA World Cup personnel have been an essential emphasis of the worker-related due diligence procedures.”

Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI), an international trade union representing construction workers, and Impact Ltd., a specialized labor rights consultant, have conducted routine independent inspections.

It continued, “The robustness of this program has been regularly recognized by experts and trade unions over the years meeting the highest worldwide standards in terms of health and safety.”

An official in Qatar told AFP last month that suggestions for a compensation fund for migrant workers killed or maimed on World Cup projects were a “publicity gimmick” and that Qatar itself had rejected the idea.

Ali bin Samikh Al Marri, Qatar’s minister of labor, said the Gulf state was already paying out hundreds of millions of dollars in back wages and called those who criticized it “racist.”

A solution package would be difficult to create and implement, according to Amnesty, which claimed that this was a “familiar refrain” from FIFA and the Qatari government.

Secretary General Callamard remarked, “Yes, the number of persons and the magnitude of the abuses implicated make this a complicated undertaking: but this must not be used as an excuse for inaction or additional delay.”

At this point, all we are asking for is a firm commitment from FIFA that programs to stop future abuses will be funded and that abused workers will receive compensation.

A center where employees may learn about their legal obligations and get assistance and counsel from attorneys should be part of this. All of this is possible with the simple stroke of Infantino’s pen.

Alasdair Bell, the deputy secretary general of FIFA, stated at the Council of Europe in October that it was “essential to try to ensure that anyone who suffers damage as a consequence of working in the World Cup gets properly redressed” and that it was “something that we’re interested in furthering.”

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