|Qatar is hosting the next Football World Cup, to be held in 2022. With the big game drawing close Amnesty International urged theFederation International De Football (FIFA) to pay attention to the human rights violations, labour abuses and vulnerability of migrants working in the hospitality, construction and domestic care sector in Qatar.
After winning the bid for hosting the World Cup back in 2010, Qatar set up the construction of seven new stadiums and renovation of one other venue, as well as building infrastructure such as new roads and transport systems for the event, in-short rebuilding an entire city which is hosting the event. As per a report shared by BBC, since Qatar’s successful bid around 1,800 immigrant workers died over the period three years, i.e. from 2011 to 2013. It implies about 600 deaths per year.
A coalition of several NGOs and human rights groups wrote an open letter to FIFA, demanding the federation to look into the issue if Qatar was meeting FIFA’s human rights standards.
The Gulf country was long operating with Kafala system or a sponsorship system, which was meant to help non-nationals / migrants to get jobs in the nation. But over the years Kafala system took an ugly face becoming a modern-day slavery tool. It won’t be incorrect to call it the Qatari’s government’s way to delegate the responsibility of migrants to private citizens and companies.The exploitative and oppressive system included labour abuse of migrant workers ranging from unpaid wages, forced labour and denial of social benefits, unauthorised fees, threats, to the retention of identity documents.
The Qatari government claimed to have amended the Kafala system and introduce reforms related to migrants’ labour rights, including paid holidays, limitations of the working hours and the end of the exit permit system for the majority of workers. Unfortunately, the nation’s labour laws, which are still not in conformity with international standards especially, are far from equal in terms of wages, access to certain working sectors and representation. Also, migrant workers do not hold the right to join or form trade unions, and certain groups of migrant workers, as is the case of domestic workers, still need the permission of their employers to change or quit their jobs.
Qatar has also been accused of cybercrime and making an under the table payment worth $400m to Fifa just 21 days before the host nation’s name was to be announced to win the bid as per the documents revealed by the Sunday Times.
As reported by the Daily Caller, a senior consultant at US National Security Studies Group, David Reaboi said, “The billions Qatar spent on their World Cup bid — and the shady stuff they seemed willing to do to secure it — indicates how seriously the tiny Gulf nation takes soccer as an instrument of projecting influence.”