Fifa has been challenged to put up $440 million - the equivalent of the World Cup prize money - as compensation to the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who have suffered human rights abuses in preparation for Qatar 2022.
A coalition of 10 human rights and supporters groups have signed an open letter to Fifa president Gianni Infantino to accompany a report by Amnesty International that coincides with the fact the controversial tournament starts in six months’ time.
The governing body have been urged to work with Qatar to establish a comprehensive remediation programme, while also ensuring that abuses are not repeated, both in the Gulf state and for future tournaments.
The letter has been signed by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, FairSquare, The Army of Survivors, Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI), Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), Equidem, Football Supporters Europe (FSE), Independent Supporters Council | North America (ISC) and Migrant-Rights.org.
Written by Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, the document reads: “Given the history of human rights abuses in the country, Fifa knew - or should have know - the obvious risks to workers when it awarded the tournament to Qatar.
“Despite this, there was not a single mention of workers or human rights in its evaluation of the Qatari bid and no conditions were put in place on labour protections. Fifa has since done far too little to prevent or mitigate those risks.
“By turning a blind eye to foreseeable human rights abuses and failing to stop them, Fifa indisputably contributed to the widespread abuse of migrant workers involved in World Cup-related projects in Qatar, far beyond the stadiums and official hotels.”
The sum of $440m matches what Fifa will hand out in prize money for the World Cup, but the Amnesty report has estimated that is likely to be the minimum necessary to cover the range of compensation costs required to support initiatives to protect workers’ rights in future.
The figure necessary to reimburse unpaid wages, extortionate recruitment fees paid by hundreds of thousands of workers and compensation for injuries and deaths is calculated to be even higher, and it is recommended that should form the basis of discussions with unions, civil society organisations and the International Labour Organisation, among others.
“While it may be too late to erase the suffering of past abuses, Fifa and Qatar can and should act to provide redress and prevent further abuses from taking place,” said Callamard.
“Providing compensation to workers who gave so much to make the tournament happen, and taking steps to make sure such abuses never happen again, could represent a major turning point in Fifa’s commitment to respect human rights.
“For years, the suffering of those who made this World Cup possible has been brushed under the carpet. It is about time Fifa and Qatar came together to work on a comprehensive remediation programme that puts workers at its centre and ensures that no harm remains unaddressed.
“Under international law and by Fifa’s own rulebook, both Qatar and Fifa have obligations and responsibilities respectively to prevent human rights abuses and provide remedy to victims. The remediation fund Amnesty International and others are calling for is entirely justifiable given the scale of abuses that have been suffered, and represents a small fraction of the $6 billion revenues Fifa will make from the tournament.”