Fifa urged to compensate migrant workers

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According to a poll published Thursday, a large majority of football fans want FIFA to organize compensation for the workers who built the stadiums and infrastructure for the next World Cup in Qatar. A result that comes as calls for a boycott of the competition are increasing.

With the approach of the Football World Cup in mid-November, the pressure is increasing on Fifa and Qatar, host country of the competition. A survey, published Thursday, September 15 and carried out among 17,000 adults in 15 countries, reveals that 73% of those questioned want Fifa to use part of its income to offer compensation to World Cup-2022 workers.

Commissioned by the NGO Amnesty International, the survey also shows that more than two-thirds of respondents want the football federations of their respective countries « to speak out publicly on human rights issues ».

« As there are only 50 days left before the start of the tournament, time is running out. Fifa still has time to do the right thing. You can’t change the past, but a compensation program would be a way clear and simple for Fifa and Qatar to provide at least some reparations for the hundreds of thousands of workers who made this tournament possible, » said Steve Cockburn, director of the Economic and Social Justice program at Amnesty International. .

Regularly singled out for the deplorable working conditions of Asian migrants sent en masse to build the infrastructure of the next World Cup from scratch, the emirate defends itself from any mistreatment or neglect.

According to a detailed investigation carried out last year by the British newspaper The Guardian, at least 6,500 workers have died on construction sites since 2010, the year in which the World Cup was awarded to Qatar. Prolonged exposure to heat is one of the leading causes of death.

Boycott calls

The results of the Amnesty International poll come as more and more voices are being raised to demand a boycott of the competition. The latest tackle comes from a big name in football and Manchester United legend: Eric Cantona. In a letter published on social networks, the former French international castigated « an ecological aberration with all these air-conditioned stadiums », in a country where temperatures easily exceed 40 ° C, as well as « a human horror ».

Before him, Philipp Lahm, the former player of Bayern Munich and president of the organizing committee of Euro-2024 in Germany, had also explained that he would not go to Qatar to protest against human rights violations.

Still, for the moment, no active player, nor any federation has refused to play in Qatar. On the other hand, several European selections such as Norway, Germany or the Netherlands had carried out symbolic actions in March 2021 by wearing T-shirts mentioning human rights.

Within the political class too, many personalities have expressed reservations about the event, but few have gone so far as to call for a boycott. Insoumis MP Alexis Corbière recently distinguished himself by assuring that « the conditions were not met for our French team to go to this event », denouncing « a sporting and ecological scandal ».

On the media side, the Quotidien de La Réunion, announced Tuesday in first that it will not cover the competition. « Without us », headlined the island’s daily, « in the name of its values, Le Quotidien boycotts the 2022 World Cup ».

On social networks, some Internet users and influencers claim that they will not turn on the television in November and December to watch the matches as a sign of protest. And the hashtag #BoycottQatar2022 is gaining in audience.

The Emir of Qatar defends his world

This is not the first time that the question of the boycott has arisen in the history of the World Cup. In 1978, calls to this effect had marked the organization of the competition in Argentina then ruled by a bloody military dictatorship.

If a major boycott does not seem to be on the agenda yet, the next World Cup has everything to become one of the most unloved sporting events of recent years.

Faced with criticism, the Emir of Qatar, who wants to make this event a media showcase for his country, has just broken his silence by giving a long interview to the weekly Le Point. “We have used state-of-the-art technologies to minimize water and energy consumption during the World Cup, in order to make it a more sustainable event,” promised Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in response to associations. defense of the environment.

>> To read: Environment: can professional football be ecological?

On the working conditions of migrants on the construction sites of the world, the emir assures that his country « has taken strong measures in record time. We have modified the law and we punish anyone who mistreats an employee; we have opened our doors to NGOs and we cooperate with them », he hammered assuring that certain criticisms came « from people who do not accept that a Muslim Arab country like Qatar hosts the World Cup ».

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