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England and Gareth Southgate asked to join ‘innovative scheme’
Amnesty CEO: ‘Football can easily afford to do the right thing’
Fifa should pay reparations of at least $440m (£356m) to migrant workers whose human rights have been compromised by the Qatar World Cup, a group of non-governmental organisations has said.
England and Gareth Southgate have been asked to support the initiative, described as an “innovative scheme” that would “provide some real redress” for workers, as attempts to leave a positive legacy for the tournament come into focus six months before the opening World Cup fixture in Doha.
Amnesty International, alongside Human Rights Watch, Football Supporters Europe and the trade union the Building and Wood Workers’ International are among those calling for a remediation scheme that would address the documented failings of human rights protections which have scarred the history of Qatar’s World Cup.
According to the organisations, Fifa should “reserve an amount not less than the $440m prize money offered to teams participating in the World Cup, to be invested in funds to support remediation. This would represent just a small percentage of Fifa’s anticipated $6bn revenues from the tournament and the $1.6bn it holds in reserves.
“This amount reflects a likely ‘floor’ for the scale of harm suffered. The final amount required for remedy will be determined by the scale of the need, the harms to be redressed and reparation measures to be offered, should be decided through a participatory process and subject to an independent evaluation.”
Sacha Deshmukh, the CEO of Amnesty International UK, called on England to support the idea. “We hope the FA and Gareth Southgate and the players will back this innovative scheme,” he said. “International football can easily afford to do the right thing here. This is a comparatively small share of Fifa’s enormous prize money pot – and it would provide some real redress for the serious human rights violations that underpin this tournament.”
Fifa, in response, said it was “assessing” the proposals. It said it had put in place “an unprecedented due diligence process” in relation to the protection of workers and – alongside the Qatari Supreme Committee responsible for tournament – had devised its own remediation processes. This includes $22.6m transferred to workers by the end of 2021 to redress the particular issue of recruitment fees often paid by migrant workers to agencies or brokers to secure employment.
Qatari authorities reacted angrily to the proposal. The ministry of labour said “Qatar is proud of the reforms it has introduced” and that progress in labour reforms was “irrefutable”. It said £110m of payments previously owed to migrant workers had been distributed via the government’s Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund.
“During this decade-long process we have engaged openly with NGOs that have been consistently critical of Qatar,” a statement from the ministry said. “The new report undermines much of the goodwill that has been generated.”