KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Six European football associations have expressed their worries about inadequate progress by World Cup host Qatar over human and workers’ rights.
The concerns of the Nordic FAs were raised openly in the virtual annual congress of world football federation FIFA and followed up a highly-publicised series of protests earlier this year by clubs and national team players.
Qatar was awarded hosting rights of the 2022 World Cup amid controversy by FIFA in December 2010. The issue of workers’ rights has been a continual issue for protest by human rights and labour organisations.
The Qatari authorities have addressed these concerns, in particular for migrant workers contracted on building projects directly concerned with the new stadia.
Earlier this year a report in The Guardian claimed that 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died in Qatar since the World Cup award. These were disputed by Qatar.
The issue was brought to the floor of congress by Ari Lahti, on behalf of his Finland federation as well as those of Denmark, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
He said: “We care about human rights, about workers rights – not only our national associations but also our players fans and people. That is the way our societies are built up.
“We applaud the many leaps forwards for workers rights in Qatar since being awarded the hosting of the World Cup.
“However the current situation for migrant workers, no matter the improvements, need to be improved. This demand is put to us by fans players, commercial partners, media and so on.
“This is not just a problem for FIFA or Qatar or the Nordic FAs alone but is of utmost importance for the football community across the globe.
“Since 2016 our six FAs have formed a committee to improve human rights in Qatar. We have worked with external experts on these important issues. We embarked on visits to Qatar tu study the housing, inadequate wages and lack of access to tribunels and courts.
“We care for the workers in Qatar, we care for the football lovers looking to the FIFA World Cup wc 2022 as a beacon of joy and we want to take seriously our responsibilities in this respect and we care for the legacy left in Qatar when the final whistle has been blown.”