On 15 March 2019, the Executive Committee of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) has scheduled a meeting to discuss the possibility of expanding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to a second Gulf country for accommodating possible additional teams. However, the main debated issue relies on the sectarian violation of labour and human rights which affect directly the work of migrant communities.
Qatar’s human rights record is skyrocketing since the official assignment in late 2011. Within its frontiers, migrant workers, who play a key role in any new construction site, still remain vulnerable to periodic and accepted abuse. Qatar, as all other GCC actors, share a huge burden of cases related to the inhuman administrative rule such as the kafala system, a labour asset which makes supervisors directly decide employee’s freedom of movement, salary and possible benefits. Most masons and construction employees are indeed recruited outside the Arab Peninsula, a vital labour source which is widely exploited with no regard to human rights values and morals.
As for the record, labour rights are not the only ones subjected to arbitrary recognition. For instance, all GCC countries criminalize same-sex conduct. Transgender rights are not even conceived by national legal experts. Degrading treatment, torture and abuses usually follow illegal cases of detention, a violent and sadistic behaviour overstretching through all human rights fields. Numbers and statistics are increasing exponentially in recent years through all degrees: women’s rights, political opposition, public demonstrators and activists.
All these conditions are theoretically impossible to match with FIFA’s Human Rights Policy, which entirely grounds to the respect of all international recognized human rights, and as for its bidding guidelines, FIFA ensures “zero tolerance for discrimination.”
On the 12 March, Amnesty International with the support of a global group of non-governmental organisations, trade unions, players’ unions and fans groups addressed an open letter to FIFA’s officials. The letter raised concerns about whether FIFA’s Human Rights Policy would be respected in expanding to an additional host in the Gulf region. In response to that, FIFA renovated its true commitment stating that its devotion to the cause is “unequivocal and integrated in the hosting requirements of all our future tournaments […] This would not be different in the case of a potential co-host already in 2022.”
The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) welcomes the initiative shown by Amnesty International and by the supporting groups to addressing the relevance of human rights issues for the World Cup event. Hoping that the FIFA board will cope with its fundamental commitments, we stand together with all those who suffer the systemic inequalities in the area.