News 17th May 2016

Footballers call for better conditions for Qatar 2022 workers

FIFPro and the Danish players association, Spillerforeningen, have released a short, powerful film calling for improved working and living conditions for migrant workers in Qatar. The video shows the shocking living conditions endured by many migrant workers building the stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

“Working conditions in Qatar are cruel”, says Tom Høgli of FC Copenhagen and the Norwegian national team. “Safety is poor, the wages are horrible. Their Passports are confiscated and in many ways they live like slaves. The football world cannot accept that.” William Kvist of FC Copenhagen and the Danish national team adds: “The fact that thousands must die to build 12 fine stadiums for us has nothing to do with football”.

Construction workers are continuing to die in Qatar. At the end of April, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SCDL) launched an investigation after a 48-year old Indian worker on a stadium construction site died following a heart attack. ‘Al Khor Hospital reported the cause of death as cardiac arrest’, read a statement. ‘All relevant authorities were notified and a full investigation is underway’. A Workers Welfare Progress Report, covering April to December 2015, confirms that two other Indian workers have recently died due to heart issues. In October 2015 a 52-year old painter at the Khalifa International Stadium site died after suffering a heart attack and in January 2016, a 55-year old heavy goods driver died after suffering a heart attack. ‘Investigations into both incidents confirmed that work duties were not a contributory factor’, read the report.

Qatar has continually attempted to refute claims that workers are mistreated by claiming that no workers have died on World Cup sites. ‘To date, after more than 14 million hours worked, there have been no fatalities on World Cup project sites – not one’, read a December 2015 statement. ‘It also makes no sense to suggest that all deaths in a population of over a million workers are a result of workplace accidents or conditions’. However, the FIFPro/Spillerforeningen video argues that long working days and tough living conditions combined with heat create serious health issues. “So many die from heatstroke or cardiac arrest, often at night in the camps”, says Mads Øland, Director at Spillerforeningen.

On 22 April, the Fédération Internationale de Football Associations (FIFA) created an oversight body designed to ensure decent working conditions for the workers building the stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar. FIFA said that the body would include ‘independent members’, however its composition would be ‘led by FIFA’. On 17 March, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) gave Qatar a year to reform its migrant labour laws, or face a full inquiry by the United Nations (PDF below). This followed a warning from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) that 7,000 migrant workers would die by the time the 2022 Qatar World Cup takes place.

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