Rights group Amnesty International on Thursday urged football’s governing body FIFA pay compensation equal to the total 2022 World Cup prize money for migrant workers “abused” in host nation Qatar.
The call, backed by other rights organisations and fan groups, follows allegations that FIFA was slow to safeguard against the exploitation of workers who flooded into the tiny Gulf state to build infrastructure in the years leading up to the tournament that starts November 21.
“FIFA should earmark at least $440 million to provide remedy for the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who have suffered human rights abuses in Qatar during preparations for the 2022 World Cup,” Amnesty said in a statement accompanying a report.
The London-based group urged FIFA president Gianni Infantino “to work with Qatar to establish a comprehensive remediation programme”.
It alleged that a “litany of abuses” had taken place since 2010, the year FIFA awarded the 2022 tournament to Qatar “without requiring any improvement in labour protections”.
“Given the history of human rights abuses in the country, FIFA knew — or should have known — the obvious risks to workers when it awarded the tournament to Qatar,” said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary general.
Amnesty said some abuses persist and described $440 million as the “minimum necessary” to cover compensation claims and to ensure remedial initiatives are expanded for the future.
The sum is roughly the total prize money for this year’s World Cup. Amnesty’s call was backed in an open letter to Infantino also signed by nine other organisations, including Migrant Rights and Football Supporters Europe.
When asked for comment, FIFA said it was “assessing the programme proposed by Amnesty” for Qatar, highlighting that it “involves a wide range of non-FIFA World Cup-specific public infrastructure built since 2010”.
Qatar’s World Cup organisers said they have “worked tirelessly” with international groups for the rights of workers on stadiums and other tournament projects. Much of the criticism has however been directed at construction outside the official tournament where hundreds of workers are said to have died in the past decade