The UEFA working group made its third visit to Qatar to meet with Qatar Federation, International Labor Organization, Ministry of Labour, Supreme Delivery and Legacy Committee, National Human Rights Committee, FIFA, Migrant workers of multiple nationalities in different sectors…
The Working Group recognized that significant progress has been made, with the impact of legislative changes demonstrated in recent International Labor Organization reports on Qatar. For example, since new labor laws were introduced in 2020, 242,000 workers have been able to change jobs (compared to less than 18,000 the previous year). In addition, 280,000 workers received wage increases to the minimum wage. In addition, 338 businesses were closed for non-compliance last summer and heat-related disorders have dropped dramatically since 2019 by 400%.
The meeting with the migrant workers confirmed that progress has been madebut highlighted a clear need for: additional legal support, a shelter for any abused workers, translation services for workers to fill out official forms, and access to information on rights.
The Working Group raised these issues with the relevant institutions, emphasizing support for the needs of workers. While acknowledging the existing measures already implemented by the Supreme Committee and the Ministry of Labor, the group believes that this additional model could be complementary. Both FIFA and the Supreme Committee informed the group that constructive talks are underway to address these issues.
LGBTQI+ rights were discussed at length and it was ensured that fans would be safely welcomed with rainbow flags, in line with previous statements welcoming everyone to Qatar and ensuring that local culture and customs are respected. The group questioned whether hotel staff were informed of the need to accommodate all guests without discrimination and obtained assurances that this was the case.
The issue of compensation for workers who have been injured or killed on World Cup-related construction projects was discussed extensively, including a request from various NGOs for a new program. The Working Group agreed on the principle that any injury or death in any workplace in any country should be compensated. The Supreme Committee outlined the existing grievance mechanism procedures and FIFA noted that they are currently seeking redress mechanisms and have promised to respond to the NGOs within three weeks and will keep the UEFA Working Group informed.
The visit reinforced that changes are taking place and recognized that the World Cup has positively accelerated change. The discussions, however, insisted on the need for comprehensive efforts, both before and after the World Cup, to ensure that football continues to serve as a positive catalyst for change.
Michele Uva, chair of the UEFA Working Group, said: “We can look back on more than a year of activities, with seven Working Group meetings and three visits to Qatar. We are grateful to the Supreme Committee and to all the institutions involved for being open in our dialogue and seeking solutions with a view to incorporating human rights considerations as an essential pillar of sustainable football events.”