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FIFA holds meeting to address human rights concerns ahead of Qatar World Cup

FOOTBALL By Reuters | December 15th 2021 | 2 min read
FILE PHOTO: Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad and his wife Sheikha Moza holding a copy of a World Cup trophy in Zurich [Reuters]

FIFA held a virtual meeting on Tuesday with political institutions as well as rights organisations to discuss human rights in Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup, global soccer's governing body said in a statement.

The meeting included FIFA President Gianni Infantino and head of the tournament's organising body Hassan Al Thawadi as well as members of the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and political representatives from parliaments across Europe.

There were also representatives from the EU Commission, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the United Nations and UNESCO among others.

FIFA said the dialogue gave an opportunity for stakeholders to raise questions and concerns on a number of key topics, including workers' welfare and LGBTQIA rights.

"From day one, we have been committed to ensure a legacy is delivered before the tournament and that this legacy lasts beyond the tournament too, specifically on labour reform but on other topics as well.", Al Thawadi said.

The government of Qatar has said in the past its labour system is still a work in progress but has denied accusations in a report by Amnesty International that thousands of migrant workers were being exploited.

A 48-page report by Amnesty, Reality Check 2021, said that practices such as withholding salaries and charging workers to change jobs were still rife.

Human Rights Watch has said that Qatari laws continue to discriminate against women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals.

"Our main question here in Qatar remains on LGBTQIA rights and specifically on the law that criminalises homosexuality," said Piara Powar, Executive Director of the Fare network, an organisation set up to counter discrimination in European football.

"We know that many LGBTQIA people are fearful of coming, of what awaits. Respect for local culture should not preclude reaching out to ensure the safety of LGBTQIA communities."

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