Human rights groups said FIFA misled the world on Qatar World Cup migrant worker abuses in a statement released on Monday.
The group — comprising of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, FairSquare, and Equidem — said that “FIFA is still failing to [fufill] its human rights responsibilities by refusing to compensate migrant workers and their families while preparing and delivering the World Cup 2022 in Qatar.”
On the eve of the World Cup, FIFA announced a Legacy Fund to “benefit people most in need,” but it has no provision for worker compensation, the human rights groups said.
They argue that FIFA President Gianni Infantino made “misleading comments that workers can simply access compensation through an existing mechanism in Qatar, when this mechanism is in fact not set up to provide compensation on any meaningful scale related to deaths, injuries, and historic wage theft.”
Human Rights Watch’s acting Executive Director Tirana Hassan said, “FIFA’s egregious whitewashing of serious abuses against migrant workers in Qatar is both a global embarrassment and a sinister tactic to escape its human rights responsibility to compensate thousands of workers who faced abuse and the families of those who died to make this World Cup possible.”
“FIFA continues to cash in on billions of dollars in revenue but refuses to offer a single cent for the families of migrant workers who died or those workers who were cheated out of their wages,” Hassan added.
The Qatar Labor Ministry has a Workers Support and Insurance Fund that began operating in 2020, but the human rights coalition contended that “the fund is not currently set up to be able to provide compensation on any meaningful scale.”
“Qatari authorities have also failed to provide disaggregated details about the announced $350 million reimbursed to migrant workers for wage theft, despite repeated requests by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International,” they said.
With the World Cup entering its final, the group is calling on FIFA to use the fund for compensation to the families of workers who have died.
FIFA, World Cup organizers and the Qatari government have not responded to CNN’s request for comment.
What FIFA has said: Previously, FIFA President Gianni Infantino had told CNN “more needs to be done” regarding labour reforms, but said progress had been made in the country.
“I’ve seen the great evolution that has happened in Qatar, which was recognized – I mean not by FIFA – but by labor unions around the world, by international organizations,” said Infantino in an interview last year.
What Qatar has said: Meanwhile, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) told CNN in November it had established what it claims is a “first-of-its-kind” Workers’ Welfare Forum, which it said allowed workers to elect a representative on their behalf and, when companies failed to comply with the WWF, it steps in and alerts the authorities.
Since 2016, the SC said 69 contractors had been demobilized, 235 contractors placed on a watch list and a further seven blacklisted. “We understand there is always room for improvement,” the statement added.
A Qatar government official also told CNN last month that work remained to be done but that “systemic reform does not happen overnight, and shifting the behavior of every company takes time as is the case with any country around the world.”
“Over the last decade, Qatar has done more than any other country in the region to strengthen the rights of foreign workers, and we will continue to work in close consultation with international partners to strengthen reforms and enforcement,” the official said.
CNN’s Aimee Lewis, Pramod Acharya and Sugam Pokharel contributed reporting to this post.