BRUSSELS: The international trade union body is offering FIFA the services of a team of inspectors to draw up a report on conditions for construction workers in Qatar writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The offer comes just ahead of the crucial meeting of the world football federations executive committee which will consider the timing of the finals in 2022 and the storm which has erupted over workers’ rights.

Directors of the International Trade Union Confederation have been campaigning out of concern at migrant workers’ conditions in Qatar ever since the Gulf state won hosting rights in December 2010.

It wants to see the Qataris bring in workplace laws and protections to deal with the high death rates of workers in Qatar, where it has estimated that 4,000 people could die before a ball is kicked in 2022.

Peaceful protesters outside FIFA Congress in Mauritius in May were hauled away by local police and detained for the day until congress was all over.

ITUC general-secretary Sharan Burrow said: “Labour inspection in Qatar has failed miserably, and the government’s announcement that would put new staff into a system that doesn’t work is futile.

Working standards

“FIFA should make it clear to Qatar that the 2022 World Cup cannot take place there if workers’ rights and working standards are not respected.  Unions save workers’ lives every day, and FIFA should welcome that expertise being used to good effect in Qatar.”

Workers from South Asia including India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Philippines and increasingly Africa are recruited to provide labour to build the billion dollar infrastructure and facilities needed for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.

Another 500,000 workers are expected to join the 1.2 million currently working and living in uncertain conditions under the onerous and restrictive kafala system.


The ITUC is calling on the FIFA Executive Committee to:

  • Make workers’ rights a condition of Qatar hosting the World Cup in 2022;
  • Put labour rights and working conditions in Qatar as a standing agenda item on their Executive Committee meeting;
  • Agree to joint investigation of the abuses of labour rights and deaths of workers in Qatar, and reporting the full findings to football fans, public and families of those who died;
  • Monitor the treatment and rights of workers in Qatar and make sure responsible recruitment companies are used to hire workers needed for World Cup jobs.

Building Wood Workers International (BWI), the global union federation representing construction workers, is sending an investigative mission at the weekend. It will reiterate to the Qatari authorities, construction companies and their sub-contractors their obligations in following international norms and principles of decent work.

Burrow added: “The public revelations of working conditions in Qatar over the past week represent only a fraction of abuses facing workers in Qatar.

“Footballers, construction workers and domestic workers are not able to speak out because their employers hold their passports, work visas and they are not allowed to leave the country without their employers permission.”