In May 2022, Amnesty International, along with other human rights supporters, called on Fifa and its sponsors to set aside $440m in compensation for the workers who suffered human rights abuse whilst working on building the next world cup’s stadium, the Khalifa, in Qatar.
It is alleged that Fifa will “generate huge revenues” from the 2022 World Cup, which has led to the apparent abuse of migrant workers, some of whom appear to have been subjected to forced labour. As a result, Amnesty created the campaign #PayUpFifa to compensate the workers who were subject to human rights abuses and poor working and living conditions.
Following the Lionesses Euros victory and the England Men’s team reaching the Euros final last year, football has increased in popularity, with many excited for the World Cup this winter. Despite this excitement, discontent surrounding the injustices that were related to the creation of the stadium remain. In March 2022, the men’s England captain Harry Kane expressed how he wants to “shine light” on the issues in Qatar and how there have “been some issues that have happened that aren’t right”. Since then, many purport that there is still a lack of accountability and gaps of justice to be filled.
Amnesty reports on how many migrants working on the stadium fled from poverty to seek employment in Qatar. The migrants were supposedly lied to about their salary and forced to live in appalling, cramped and unsafe conditions. Their passports were confiscated, and they were told they had to receive an “exit-permit” from their employer should they wish to leave the country.
With less than 100 days until kick off, should we be calling for more steps to be taken to compensate for the human rights abuses the related workers have suffered? Should we seek for our football icons to use their platforms to speak up against the unethical (and illegal) employment practices of corporates and states? Should we stand up and voice our concerns before we decide to take our seats?
“I remember my first day in Qatar. Almost the very first thing [an agent] working for my company did was take my passport. I haven’t seen it since.” - Shamim, a gardener at the Aspire Zone.