ZURICH: Visa has become the first of FIFA’s major World Cup sponsors to react to the latest eruption of concern over the working conditions for migrant workers building the infrastructure for the 2022 finals in Qatar.
A statement from the company was sharper than a recent comment from fellow sponsor Coca-Cola and followed incidents including the detention of journalistic film crews from the BBC and, earlier, German channel ARD.
The BBC incident, two weeks ago but revealed only this week, drew expressions of concern and promise of an inquiry from the world football federation.
Concern over workers’ conditions has remained an issue while the Qatar authorities have failed to demonstrate outward signs that fine words about change will be matched with deeds.
The Supreme [local organising] Committee has enforced a far higher standard of worker support schemes than is common across the Gulf region but its rules and regulations apply to specific World Cup projects such as the stadia and not to general infrastructure.
Visa said: “We continue to be troubled by the reports coming out of Qatar related to the World Cup and migrant worker conditions. We have expressed our grave concern to FIFA and urge them to take all necessary actions to work with the appropriate authorities and organizations to remedy this situation.”
Earlier Coca-Cola, the longest-serving World Cup sponsor since the 1970s, had said: “The Coca-Cola Company does not condone human rights abuses anywhere in the world. We know FIFA is working with Qatari authorities to address specific labor and human rights issues.
“We expect FIFA to continue taking these matters seriously and to work toward further progress.”
Adidas is a further sponsor to have noted its concern.
Earlier this week Amnesty International published further critical report of its own in which it accused the Qatari government of not matching its words with deeds.