BRUSSELS: Sepp Blatter should not return from Qatar this weekend without a guarantee of decisive steps by the 2022 World Cup host towards full rights for construction workers.

That uncompromising message has come from Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation whose campaigning over the issue was enhanced by a media storm over the plight of Nepalese workers.

FIFA president Blatter had promised his executive committee last month that he would raise the issue during a goodwill visit to meet the new Emir. The meeting is one of several being undertaken by Blatter on a trip which has taken in Iran and will include the United Arab Emirates for tomorrow’s final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Abu Dhabi.

Burrow said: “Sepp Blatter cannot come back from Qatar empty-handed.   FIFA needs to tell Qatar that respect for International Labour Organisation standards is a condition for the World Cup in 2022 and that any further delay will jeopardise Qatar’s hosting of the event.

“This means an end to the kafala system, the right for migrant workers to organise unions to ensure safe and decent work, and responsible recruitment of migrant workers.  President Blatter should give a detailed report to next month’s executive committee meeting in Brazil about what FIFA has done in the two months since it finally acknowledged the problems.”

Death fears

The ITUC has estimated that 4,000 workers could die building World Cup infrastructure by 2022.

Thousands of supporters of the ITUC backed campaign www.rerunthevote.orgare contacting the 27 members of the FIFA Executive Committee asking them to:

  • Keep the issue of workers’ rights in Qatar on the Executive Committee meeting agenda;
  • Investigate the deaths of workers in Qatar;
  • Demand joint inspections with trade unions of Qatar’s labour camps and worksites.

Members of FIFA’s executive committee to have expressed concern about the situation have included Britain’s Jim Boyce, Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al-Hussein and Germany’s Theo Zwanziger.

Burrow added: “Workers’ rights must be a condition of Qatar hosting the World Cup in 2022. If there are no labour rights, there should be no World Cup in Qatar. There is still time to re-run the vote for the 2022 World Cup if Qatar does not reform its ways.”

An international union delegation will return to Qatar in early December.