Amnesty accuses Qatar of migrant exploitation to build World Cup stadium

It is calling on game sponsors and FIFA to act

Amnesty International, Qatar, World Cup, migrants, exploitation, FIFA, Khalifa International Stadium

In this file photo, a worker cleans the road outside Khalifa sport complex in Doha, Qatar | Image: Kin Cheung / AP/Press Association Images

Amnesty International is accusing Qatar of abusing migrants building its World Cup venues.

It says it has exposed exploitation of migrant workers building Khalifa International Stadium - a ground slated to host a World Cup semi-final in 2022.

"Despite promising to improve protections, Qatar has failed to adequately reform its exploitative migrant labour system", the human rights group says.

It says that migrant workers need their employer's consent to leave the country and change jobs.

"Bosses' excessive control over their workers' lives puts workers at risk of exploitation, and sometimes even forced labour", it adds.

It also says that the would governing body FIFA has a responsibility to make sure the 2022 World Cup is not "built on abuse".

It says workers often live in cramped, dirty and unsafe accommodation, claiming men are sleeping on bunk beds in rooms for eight or more people.

Pictures from Amnesty International show living conditions | © Amnesty International

But Qatari law and the Workers’ Welfare Standards allow for a maximum of four beds per room, and prohibit bed sharing and the use of bunk beds.

"When it awarded its showcase tournament to Qatar, it knew, or ought to have known, that most construction work in Qatar involves migrant workers and that migrant workers were subjected to serious and systemic labour exploitation".

World Cup stadium construction is expected to increase dramatically in the next two years and is expected to peak in mid-2017.

FIFA replies

Amnesty is calling on FIFA's new president Gianni Infantino to end the body's "shocking indifference to the appalling treatment of migrant workers".

Amnesty International is also calling on major World Cup sponsors like Adidas, Coca-Cola and McDonald's to pressure FIFA to address the exploitation of workers on Khalifa stadium, and disclose its plan for preventing further abuses in World Cup projects.

In a statement, FIFA says: " FIFA is fully aware of the risks facing construction workers in Qatar and of the opportunity that FIFA, together with other stakeholders, has to facilitate the improvement of working conditions in the country".

"We remain convinced that the unique attraction and visibility of the FIFA World Cup globally is a strong catalyst for significant change".

The Amnesty report is based on interviews with 132 migrant construction workers rebuilding Khalifa stadium.

A further 99 migrants also interviewed were landscaping the green spaces in the surrounding Aspire Zone sports complex, where Bayern Munich, Everton and Paris Saint-Germain trained this winter.

Speaking to Newstalk Lunchtime, executive director of Amnesty International Colm O'Gorman stated that the situation is hugely worrying, not least because "under the sponsorship system that exists in Qatar for migrant workers, workers are dependent on their employers both for permission to remain in the country, so they can't move jobs or to leave the country, so you're trapped". 

"You can't exit Qatar without your employer's permission and time after time we spoke to workers who, when they complained about the conditions, about the fact that they hadn't been paid for several months, were told to shut up and get back to work or they'd never leave Qatar". 

O'Gorman also stated that this is one of a number of reports that have been published by Amnesty and others about conditions for workers there which have resulted in a number of deaths from exhaustion, heat and accidents on sites. 

"Those deaths have never been properly investigated by the Qatari authorities, and we're very much of the view that FIFA quite frankly just isn't taking the situation seriously [...] they've made the same kind of vague commitments that they've promised for the last five years without any kind of results at all".