According to European Parliament Thursday, FIFA will finally attach importance to the human rights record of countries bidding to host future World Cups.
As an executive committee member of football’s world governing body, Theo Zwanziger argued for the welfare conditions of migrant workers who are engaged in construction projects for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, by saying that everyone should think about to improve the welfare of workers not just FIFA, though the Qatar authorities had acknowledged they couldn’t keep doing business as usual.
In fact, FIFA has already set a deadline for World Cup organizers in Dubai and the organizers on Tuesday had yet stated an updated ‘workers’ charter’ pledging to address concerns over wages and accommodation for overseas workers and regular inspections of construction sites. While, some critics claimed that’s not enough, even though FIFA said it was just the first important step.
Zwanziger also recognized in his evidence that with the global spotlight falling on the Gulf state there would be a risk and a chance, it could help enhance the current appalling situation of human rights after all.
However, Zwanziger conceded, Qatar’s had not been sufficiently taken its record on human rights into consideration when awarded the 2022 competition. He said that all needed to reconsider such situation and give human rights a much higher status.
Others who address the parliament pointed out that Qatar’s kafala system allowing employers to withhold pay and prevent overseas workers from leaving the country by withholding their passport was illegal. The authorities must end as soon as possible.
Head of the International Trade Union Confederation Sharan Burrow said as a slave state having about 1.4 million migrant workers, Qatar still needed to do a lot to improve extreme conditions for those who lived in squalor and were forced to work in extraordinary heat, to give them a normal weekend and proper health care, etc.
The French-Algerian footballer Zahir Belounis also gave an emotional testimony about his experiences before the parliament, saying that he was limited to leave Qatar for several months in 2013 due to a contractual wrangle with his club.
As earlier as last November, European MEPs had approved a resolution to call on “Qatari authorities to stop detaining individuals for ‘running away’ from their employers,” and demand “working conditions that are in line with international human rights standards.” It’s a decision following a hard-hitting report from Amnesty International on conditions for migrant construction workers, who were involved in the estimated $200B infrastructure projects associated with the World Cup.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter responded to the report that before giving Zwanziger responsibility for heading up an investigation, the situation was “unacceptable”.