Victims’ groups and UN urge football governing body to halt death toll before 2022 World Cup

Qatar construction site A construction site in Qatar, which has 1.2 million foreign workers and is spending £100bn on facilities and infrastructure before 2022. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Link to video: Qatar: one Nepalese worker’s story

International pressure on Qatar to prevent exploitation of migrant workers in the buildup to the 2022 football World Cup escalated on Wednesday as victims’ groups and the United Nations urged the game’s governing body to act to halt a death toll that is already in the hundreds.

As the executive committee of Fifa convened in Zurich for two days of talks including a session on Qatar’s preparations for the biggest sporting event ever to be held in the Middle East, the Uefa president, Michel Platini, said he was “much more concerned” with allegations over the treatment of migrant workers in the Gulf state than with discussions over whether to move the tournament to winter.

The British government also renewed pressure on Qatar, with the sports minister, Hugh Robertson, saying it should be “a precondition of the delivery of every major sports event that the very highest standards of health and safety are applied”.

Unions have warned that labour conditions in the country could result in as many as 4,000 deaths before a ball is kicked. Representatives of the families of migrant workers already killed and injured on building sites in the Gulf state called on Fifa to hand the tournament to another country, unless the Doha leadership can quickly guarantee worker safety.

Ramesh Badal, a lawyer in Kathmandu who represents Nepalese workers victimised in Qatar, including those who have lost hands and legs in construction accidents, demanded that Fifa place a deadline on Qatar by which it must prevent deaths and labour abuses. He said if it fails, the right to host the World Cup should be withdrawn.

“If Fifa applies pressure on Qatar now, then they will definitely change,” he said. “This is now in the hands of Fifa.”

Platini voted for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup and his comments are one of the clearest signs yet that Qatar could be forced to act to safeguard more than a million migrant workers erecting nine new stadiums, motorways, metro systems, railways and several hundred thousand new hotel rooms. All 25 voting members of the Fifa executive committee who will convene to discuss the issue on Thursday and Friday were contacted to make them aware of the Guardian’s findings. The treatment of construction workers in Qatar has been added to the agenda on Friday in the wake of the Guardian’s reports, which found 44 Nepalese workers had died in Qatar between 4 June and 8 August this year. This week the Nepalese government revealed 70 nationals had died on building sites in Qatar since the beginning of 2012. Hundreds more are thought to have been injured in falls and accidents with machinery and vehicles.

Read More Here

Enhanced by Zemanta