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Rights group urges FIFA, Qatar to compensate World Cup workers

By Kamau Muthoni - Aug 12th 2022
Branding is displayed near the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center where soccer World Cup draw will be held, in Doha, Qatar, on March 31, 2022.  AP

With 100 days to go until the World Cup starts in Qatar, Human Rights Watch on Friday again urged FIFA and the host nation to improve compensation for migrant workers and their families.

The rights group called for a “comprehensive remedy program for workers who suffered serious harms, including deaths, injuries, and wage theft” while working on World Cup-related projects like stadiums, transport and hotels.

Qatar has spent tens of billions of dollars on infrastructure since being picked by FIFA as host in 2010, and faced intense scrutiny of its labor laws and treatment of hundreds of thousands of workers, many from south Asia, who were needed to come to the tiny emirate and build the projects.

“Qatar has compensated some migrant workers who have faced serious abuses in recent years, but for many, these programs were created too late and are still a major work in progress,” said Michael Page, HRW’s deputy director for the Middle East.

Since 2010, the agency claimed, the level of “uncompensated human rights abuses … is significant.”

In Qatar, a Workers’ Support Fund has since 2020 paid out $164 million in compensation to 36,373 workers from 17 different countries, HRW said citing data from Qatar’s Ministry of Labor.

The organization did not specify a figure for how much compensation is still needed, though Amnesty International has suggested FIFA should pay $440 million in reparations to workers — matching the sum soccer’s world body will pay in prize money to the 32 national federations whose teams are playing in Qatar.

FIFA and tournament organizers have long cited the World Cup as a catalyst to modernize laws and society in Qatar.

Responding to Amnesty in May, Qatari organizers pointed to “significant improvements … across accommodation standards, health and safety regulations, grievance mechanisms, healthcare provision, and reimbursements of illegal recruitment fees to workers.”


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