DOHA: Federico Addiechi, FIFA’s increasingly busy head of corporate social responsibility, has conceded that the world federation was late to raise concerns about the treatment of migrant labourers in Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.
The Sepp Blatter regime had latrgely been perceived as resisting responsibility for the state of affairs ‘on the ground’ in countries handed the world football federation’s crown jewels tournament.
FIFA has come under fierce sustained attack from Amnesty International and the International Trades Union Confederation for its shoulder-shrugging attitude.
Addiechi, questioned during a humnan rights conference in Qatar capital Doha, said that FIFA had not raised concerns about the abuse of labourers with the Qatar 2022 organising committee until last May, five years after the host award. Before that, he said, FIFA had not considered the construction of stadiums its responsibility.
He added: “When it comes to human rights policy . . . we started, in connection with Qatar and its bidding process for 2022, late, yes. As soon as we acknowledged… that an organisation like FIFA should be involved in addressing possible violations of human rights in stadiums, we did (contact Qatar).”
A significant gap still exists between contracted terms for construction companies working directly on World Cup projects and other corporations contracted on projects to serve Qatar’s 2030 project.
Addiechi added that FIFA wanted to work with organisers to improve conditions for foreign workers hired by sub-contractors on tournament sites.
He said: “We would like to see the efforts that are being made to implement welfare standards for migrant workers, that this trickle down to the lowest part of the supply chain.”
In effect FIFA considers its hands tied by the fact that contracts have long since been signed and enacted. However the future may be different as a result of recommendations from John Ruggie, a former UN advisor on human rights.