Construction workers at Lusail Stadium during a media tour in Doha, Qatar, 20 December 2019. EFE-EPA/ALI HAIDER

‘No compensation for migrant deaths, stolen Wages in Qatar one year after World Cup’

Cairo, Nov 20 (EFE).- One year after Qatar hosted the men’s World Cup, Human Rights Watch said on Monday that Qatari authorities and FIFA have not addressed the issues of “migrant deaths and stolen wages” in connection with the massive construction projects leading up to the event.

Soccer supporters cheer at the FIFA Fan Festival on the eve of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Doha, Qatar 19 November 2022. EFE-EPA/ABIR SULTAN

The treatment of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers faced intense global scrutiny before the World Cup commenced on Nov. 20 last year.

Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said FIFA’s response to rectifying the troubling human rights legacy left behind in Qatar should have been to address the issues of migrant deaths and wages denied to the workers.

“By failing to do so, FIFA is showing disdain for the very workers who made the World Cup possible.”

A press statement from HRW highlighted that neither the football governing body nor the Qatari government had provided compensation to rectify the abuses suffered by migrant workers, “including families of thousands of migrant workers who died of unexplained causes.”

The statement noted that Qatari authorities and FIFA made “grossly inaccurate and misleading claims that Qatar’s labor protection systems and compensation mechanisms were adequate to remedy these widespread abuses” before the 2022 tournament.

However, HRW’s research has shown that Qatar’s labor reforms, made under intense global scrutiny, were extremely limited due to their late introduction, narrow scope, or poor enforcement, and that scores of migrant workers fell through the cracks.

“After the global spotlight on Qatar’s abuses dimmed, abused migrant workers and families of the deceased faced old and new forms of exploitation that Human Rights Watch documented in the post-2022 World Cup slowdown and that continues today.”

The statement said FIFA’s “irresponsible abandonment” of migrant workers in Qatar and Qatar’s poor enforcement of reforms meant that many of the workers remained in Qatar in the post-tournament slowdown without work or pay and with outstanding wages and benefits contractually owed to them.

The rights group claimed that it found that they were unable to return to their home countries as “they fear that they would not be able to access the stolen wages and justice they are due from overseas.”

A Qatar-based migrant worker said his company, dealing with a business slowdown, is sending workers home for long, unpaid leaves. “The workers are given QAR 1000 ($275) and airfare and told they will be contacted when there is work,” he said.

The nonprofit said FIFA and Qatari authorities had an opportunity to address some of these bitter legacies by providing a remedy, including financial compensation. “They could have built upon and expanded the limited successes of Qatar’s Workers’ Support Fund by reimbursing some migrant workers.”

The rights group said the football governing body appeared to be “repeating the serious errors it made during the 12-year preparation for the 2022 World Cup.”

“FIFA has effectively awarded the 2034 World Cup to Saudi Arabia, a country that relies extensively on over 13.4 million migrant workers, many of whom come from the same countries as Qatar’s workers.”

Page said the soccer body and Qatari authorities continued to “deflect scrutiny from their abject failure to protect workers rather than spending a modicum of effort to compensate the very workers who generated huge revenues for them.” EFE