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Qatar: Time fast running out for Infantino to break his silence on migrant workers’ compensation

With less than a week to go to until the 2022 Qatar World Cup, FIFA and its President Gianni Infantino are fast running out of time to commit to compensating migrant workers for abuses suffered during preparations for the tournament, said Amnesty International.

“Unless he breaks his silence on the issue of compensation, Gianni Infantino looks set to refuse a golden opportunity to leave a World Cup legacy that respects and honours the workers who made it possible. He has been presented with reams of evidence about the human consequences of the last twelve years, and a concrete proposal to help victims and their families rebuild their lives, so the message from Zurich and Doha cannot simply be to focus on football,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Head of Economic and Social Justice.

“FIFA cannot use the spectacle of the World Cup to dodge its responsibilities. It has a clear duty towards the hundreds of thousands of workers who suffered while building the stadiums and infrastructure needed for the tournament. A public commitment to a compensation fund—while not undoing the past—would represent a major step forward. Time is short but it’s still not too late for FIFA to do the right thing.”

Unless he breaks his silence on the issue of compensation, Gianni Infantino looks set to refuse a golden opportunity to leave a World Cup legacy that respects and honours the workers who made it possible

Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International's Head of Economic and Social Justice

In May 2022, Amnesty and a coalition of organisations launched a campaign calling on Qatar and FIFA to establish a comprehensive remediation programme for the hundreds of thousands of workers who faced abuses such as illegal recruitment fees, unpaid wages, injury and, in the worst cases, death.  To date, Gianni Infantino has provided no response to a joint letter sent by the coalition on the campaign’s launch, while consistently avoiding the issue of compensation in public.  

The remediation proposal has gained widespread support, from more than a dozen football associations including those of England, Germany, France, Netherlands and the USA; World Cup sponsors Coca Cola, Adidas, Budweiser and McDonalds; and, via a viral video last month, the Australian national team. However, while FIFA’s senior leadership have acknowledged the importance of compensation, the footballing body and its President are yet to make any public commitment. A global poll commissioned by Amnesty across 15 countries revealed that 84% of likely World Cup viewers also favour the proposal.

Background

On 4 November, Gianni Infantino wrote a letter to all 32 nations competing at the 2022 World Cup, urging them to ‘focus on the football’ and to set aside human rights concerns. It followed comments by Qatar’s Labour Minister dismissing Amnesty’s campaign as a “publicity stunt.”

An op-ed by Amnesty’s Secretary General calling on Gianni Infantino to commit to compensation, is available here.

Amnesty International is calling for on FIFA and Qatar to publicly commit to establishing a remediation programme to provide remedy for all abuses related to the preparation and delivery of the World Cup and for the funding of programmes to prevent further abuses. Thereafter, FIFA and Qatar should work together with others; including workers, civil society, trade unions and the International Labour Organization to define the details and delivery of the programme.