As Ireland face Qatar in an international friendly tonight, Bohemian FC and Amnesty International Ireland jointly called on the FAI to use this moment to pressure FIFA and the Qatari authorities on the long-standing abuses of migrant workers.
These abuses have included unpaid wages, excessively long working hours, severe restrictions on movement, appalling living conditions, and particularly in the case of domestic workers, verbal and physical abuse. This treatment has been facilitated by the inherently abusive kafala (sponsorship) system. Migrants make up 90% of Qatar’s workforce and as such, the World Cup would not have been possible in the country without them.
While many reforms have been committed to, including the abolishment of the kafala system, the implementation of the reforms have been weak and are already seeing backlash from parts of the local business community, making this a critical moment in the fight for workers’ rights in Qatar.
“Football fans and players should be able to take part and enjoy the World Cup, confident that the migrant workers who made the World Cup possible are not victims of human rights abuses,” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland.
“The FAI have a responsibility under international human rights standards to use their leverage to prevent human rights abuses that they are linked to. So we’re calling on the FAI to use the spotlight of the World Cup to come out publicly in support of the human rights of the workers, and to urge FIFA to take urgent action.
“After years of pressure, the Qatari government committed in 2017 to reforming its abusive kafala sponsorship system, amongst other major promises of change. But these reforms are fragile and are facing backlash, so this is a critical moment. We need the international pressure to continue to build and the FAI have a clear role in that.”
Amnesty International and Bohemian FC had previously worked together on the best-selling ‘Refugees Welcome’ away jersey. Bohemian FC’s fans have been instrumental in coming out in support for of human and migrant rights, and Amnesty has campaigned on the issue ever since the hosting of the World Cup was given to Qatar in 2010.
“Workers’ rights are human rights, and we want to show solidarity with the people who’ve built the very stadiums that enable this World Cup to take place,” said Daniel Lambert, Chief Operating Officer for Bohemian FC.
“We’re calling on the FAI to use their leverage with FIFA and Qatar, and speak out to try and achieve real, long-lasting change for migrant workers. We and our supporters want the legacy of the World Cup 2022 to be a positive one, not one where people are being horrifically exploited.
“We know that football can be a force for great good, let’s grasp this opportunity to demonstrate this on our biggest stage, the World Cup.”
As the World Cup organiser, FIFA has a responsibility under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to ensure human rights are respected in the context of preparing for and carrying out the tournament. This includes an obligation to hold its World Cup partners in Qatar to account and use its clout to push the government to fully reform its labour system.
As FIFA member associations, national Football Associations (FAs) are expected to comply with FIFA’s own Human Rights Policy. Further, as bodies that – through their business relationships with FIFA – profit financially from revenues generated by the World Cup, FAs also have a responsibility under international human rights standards to use their leverage to prevent human rights harm to which they are linked.
- 2020: Letter from Julie Verhaar, Amnesty International’s Acting Secretary General, to Mr Gianni Infantino, FIFA President, calling on FIFA to take urgent and concrete action to ensure the 2022 World Cup leaves a positive and lasting legacy for all migrant workers in Qatar.
- 2020: QATAR: REALITY CHECK 2020: COUNTDOWN TO THE 2022 WORLD CUP – MIGRANT WORKERS’ RIGHTS IN QATAR
- 2019: “Reality Check: The state of migrant workers’ rights with less than four years to go until the Qatar 2022 World Cup”
- 2019: Qatar: Pledge to end abusive ‘kafala’ system must truly transform workers’ rights
- 2016: The ugly side of the beautiful game: Exploitation on a Qatar 2022 World Cup site, and 2017 follow up of continuing abuses