On March 30, an Amnesty International report highlighted the living and working conditions for migrant laborers working on the 2022 FIFA World Cup stadiums. The report stressed that migrant workers have little leverage over their working conditions due to the debts accrued by their move to Qatar. Employers often confiscate workers’ passports on arrival and deny workers the exit visa required to leave. Wage payment is delayed or not given at all. The daily lives are made even worse by the squalor that the workers have to live in, and by the difficulty of working under the intense Middle Eastern heat.
Although there are rules in place to prevent the maltreatment of workers, contractors simply ignore them or do not enforce the rules for their sub-contractors. Many workers are unable to to take advantage of laws set in place to allow workers to better their working conditions while others are either unaware of their rights or are afraid to file complaints against their sponsors.
Perhaps even more alarming is the lack of recognition by FIFA and Qatar’s governing body that there is abuse of migrant workers. In response to the report, Qatar claimed that the “tone of Amnesty International’s latest assertions paint a misleading picture.” FIFA did not dismiss Amnesty International’s claims, but was was unconvincing in its response. FIFA told Amnesty International that it is currently “in the process of formalizing its human rights due diligence process” with the inspection of construction sites. The report pointed out that it should not have taken five years for FIFA to begin inspecting construction sites, when conditions for workers have been publicized for years.
On April 6, The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy responded to pressure by appointing an unnamed, independent third party to closely monitor abuse of migrant workers. Little is known about how effective this change will be. The world footballing community hopes that reform will amend this dark side of the industry previously unknown to fans.