NYON: A European football federation working group has conducted its third site visit to Qatar meeting with several institutions and individuals.
The UEFA Working Group, which was set up in May 2021, made its third site visit to Qatar to meet key institutions and individuals in the host country as the tournament draws closer.
A UEFA statement said:
Chaired by UEFA, the group was composed by senior representatives from member associations, who carried out meetings with the following institutions and individuals:
• Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy
• Qatar Football Association
• 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar LLC
• Hospitality Sector Working Group
• International Labour Organisation
• Ministry of Labour
• National Human Rights Committee
• Migrant workers from multiple nationalities across different sectors
• Centre for Sports and Human Rights
• Institute for Human Rights and Business
The scope of the meetings, conducted with the full support of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, focused on a broad range of human rights, grievance mechanisms, LGBTQI+ rights and press freedom.
On the workers’ rights issues, the Working Group recognised that significant progress has been made, with the impact of legislative changes demonstrated in the International Labour Organisation’s recent reports on Qatar. For example, since new labour laws were introduced in 2020, 242’000 workers were able to change jobs (compared to less than 18’000 the year before). In addition, 280’000 workers received salary increases to the minimum wage. Furthermore, 338 enterprises were shut down last summer for non-compliance and heat-related disorders have dramatically decreased since 2019 by 400%. (See video with ILO report summary)
Whilst the legislative development is positive, it was noted that universal implementation is still required. The meeting with the migrant workers confirmed that progress has been made but highlighted a clear need for:
• additional legal support,
• a shelter for any abused workers,
• translation services for workers to fill in official forms and access to information on rights.
It was clear from individual experiences that more awareness of the new laws is needed across both workers and employers. One model to address these issues is the concept of a Migrant Workers Centre.
The Working Group raised these issues with the relevant institutions, outlining support for the workers’ needs. Whilst acknowledging the existing measures already put in place by the Supreme Committee and the Ministry of Labour, the group believed that this additional model could be complementary. Both FIFA and the Supreme Committee informed the group that constructive conversations are ongoing to address these issues. The members of the Working Group were clear that this solution should further add to the legacy of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Significant progress was noted with regards to the new development to allow Joint Committees across different sectors and communities. Thirty have been established which will provide the basis for workers representation moving forwards and will continue to drive progress in Qatar. A target of 100 Joint Committees has been set for the next year.
The Working Group met with the Supreme Committee, the ILO, and representatives from five major hotel groups (comprising the ‘Hospitality Working Group’), to get updates on the due diligence process with hotels. It was clarified that each hotel in Qatar has now been audited at least twice as part of the ongoing process to ensure compliance with legislation. Federations also committed to due diligence with all major local suppliers, in collaboration with the Hospitality Working Group.
LGBTQI+ rights were discussed at length, and assurances were provided regarding fans being safely welcomed with rainbow flags, in line with previous statements welcoming everyone to Qatar and ensuring local culture and customs are respected. The group questioned whether hotels’ personnel was briefed about the need to accommodate all guests without discrimination and obtained assurances that this was the case.
The issue of compensation for workers who have been injured or lost their lives in construction projects related to the World Cup was discussed at length, including the request from multiple NGOs for a new programme. The Working Group agreed the principle that any injury or death in any workplace in any country should be compensated. The Supreme Committee outlined their existing grievance mechanism procedures and FIFA noted that they are currently looking into compensation mechanisms and committed to respond to the NGOs within three weeks and will keep the UEFA Working Group appraised.
The visit reinforced that changes are taking place and acknowledged that the World Cup has accelerated change in a positive way. The discussions, however, emphasised the need for comprehensive efforts, both before and after the World Cup, to ensure that football continues to serve as a positive catalyst for change in line with Qatar’s Vision 2030. The remaining months before the tournament present further opportunities for important and necessary changes.
Michele Uva, chair of the UEFA Working Group, said:
We can look back on more than one year of activities, with seven Working Group meetings and three site visits to Qatar. We are thankful to the Supreme Committee and all institutions involved for the openness in our dialogue and search for solutions in view of incorporating human rights considerations as an essential pillar of sustainable football events.