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The World Cup in Qatar is set to end without migrant workers receiving access to an adequate remedy fund.
This tournament has been controversial for several reasons, including Qatar’s criminalisation of homosexuality and male guardianship system, as well as alleged abuses of migrant workers.
These workers make up around 90 per cent of Qatar’s population, and have embarked on an unprecedented construction programme in the country since 2010.
There have been thousands of unexplained migrant worker deaths during that time. They have also faced risks such as non-payment of wages, illegal recruitment, and heat-related safety issues.
Several non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have backed calls for a compensation fund, alongside the UEFA Working Group, a collective of 12 teams including England, the United States, France, the Netherlands, and Germany.
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“The final game of this World Cup tournament coincides with International Migrants Day and Qatar’s National Day, a fitting coincidence given migrant workers’ indispensable role in making the tournament and the development of Qatar possible,” said Rothna Begum, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“But unless FIFA and Qatar provide a remedy for the widescale unaddressed abuses suffered by migrants who prepared and delivered the tournament, they will have chosen to leave behind a legacy of exploitation and shame.”
FIFA, the Supreme Committee and the Qatari government all insist these systems are in place and operational, but human rights organisations say these do not account for historic abuses.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the World Cup final, FIFA president Gianni Infantino sidestepped a question about the compensation fund.
He later added: “We are defending human rights, we are defending the rights of everyone, in the World Cup.”
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His comments came on the same day that players union FIFPRO announced the creation of an app to support migrant workers, developed in partnership with two other trade unions — Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) and the International Domestic Workers’ Federation (IDWF).
There had been calls from the UEFA Working Group for the creation of a migrant worker centre to provide legal advice and information.
Norwegian FA president Lise Klaveness said on Thursday that there should be an official inquiry into the migrant worker death toll ahead of the tournament.
She said: “The World Cup committee claims there were three work-related deaths that are related to the construction of stadiums.
“There must be an analysis, the most independent investigation of this as possible, and it is our responsibility in football to carry it out. Although it will create a lot of discussion, pressure and fuss, we, England, Germany and many of the European confederations believe that it is necessary.”
However, the FA is not currently backing calls for an inquiry into the death toll, which is extremely difficult to ascertain due to the lack of post-mortem examinations.
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(Photo: Getty Images)