Qatar 2022: FIFA open to creating compensation fund for workers

FIFA wants to help workers in Qatar get compensation if they were injured during the construction of venues for the future FIFA World Cup.

One of the world body’s leaders told European lawmakers on Thursday.

Soccer federations in Europe have backed the creation of a special fund since Amnesty International said FIFA should contribute US$440 million (approximately C$611.6 million) to compensate workers, the the same amount will be paid in scholarships to the 32 national teams that will participate in the tournament which will be launched next month.

Qatar has found itself in turmoil over the contractual and working conditions imposed on the hundreds of thousands of workers who migrated to this small Middle Eastern country which won the organization of the World Cup 12 years ago.

Financial compensation is ‘certainly an option that we are interested in moving forward’, FIFA Deputy General Secretary Alasdair Bell told the Council of Europe, which was holding a session on workers’ rights in Qatar.

« Righting the Wrongs »

« It’s important to try to right the wrongs, including injuries, caused to those who worked on the sidelines of the World Cup, » Bell told the 46 lawmakers gathered in Strasbourg, France.

Ensuring that such compensation is paid should be a key goal for FIFA so that the Qatari tournament has a positive legacy, Football Federation of Norway president Lise Klaveness said, adding that the lack of an independent investigation on the unexplained deaths of workers in Qatar was « the elephant in the room ».

Bell agreed with Klaveness: a compensation fund is not the easiest thing to set up and strict rules of supervision will have to be observed.

« But it’s clearly an option that interests us, » he said.

It was unclear on Thursday whether the money offered in compensation should come from FIFA, Qatari authorities or the contractors who hired the workers, many of whom are from South Asia and the Philippines.

Already shares of Qatar

Qatar has set up a workers’ compensation fund that since 2020 has paid out $164 million to more than 36,000 workers from 17 countries, according to data released in August by Human Rights Watch.

The Qataris and the organizers of the World Cup were also praised on Thursday for the introduction of legal reforms, including the imposition of a minimum wage.

“It’s not just a bluff, it’s real and you can already see real improvements in the lives of thousands of people,” said Alasdair Bell.

“The risk, he admitted, however, is that once the spotlight is turned off after the World Cup, is to see these changes disappear. It is essential that they remain, even that they can serve as a foundation for their spread in the rest of the Middle East. »

Bell added that it is important for foreign workers to have access to a « safe place » in Qatar where they can be made aware of their rights, a project supported by the global players’ union, FIFPRO, and also underlined by Klaveness.

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