FIFA to help unions tackle Qatar on labor rights

AP, Thursday 17 Nov 2011

FIFA is pledging to help improve the rights of migrant workers building stadiums in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup following threats by international labor leaders to disrupt construction plans.


FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke met Thursday with International Trade Union Confederations officials and agreed to raise their concerns in the Gulf emirate.

“It was agreed that FIFA and ITUC will work jointly over the next few months to address labor issues with the Qatari authorities,” Valcke said in a statement. “As the world governing body of the most popular sport we have a responsibility that goes beyond the development of football and the organization of our competitions.”

Valcke said FIFA will require future World Cup bidders to respect labor issues. The next bidding contest is likely in 2018 to choose the 2026 host.

Qatar’s social and moral traditions, as well as its searing summer heat, have been scrutinized about their suitability for a World Cup host since it won a stunning victory in a FIFA vote last December. The gas-rich nation beat the United States, Australia, South Korea and Japan.

The ITUC, which says it represents 175 million workers in 153 countries, had warned FIFA it would disrupt work in Qatar if rights are not respected.

ITUC leader Sharan Burrow said ahead of the FIFA headquarters meeting that migrant laborers in Qatar often work in unsafe conditions.

“FIFA has the power to make labor rights a requirement of the Qatari authorities who are hosting a World Cup,” Burrow said.

Qatar is building nine stadiums and huge infrastructure projects costing tens of billions of dollars in the next 10 years.

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