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Not a great week to be FIFA

Sean Knoflick

Pretty much every headline over the last few days was calling FIFA (the International Federation of Association Football) out for bribery and corruption charges. Scheming, kickbacks, and backroom deals are just a few of the alleged offenses FIFA has on its hands right now. But the story I’m about to tell you is even more disturbing. 

After the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal a month ago, killing 8,000+ people, Nepalese workers based in Qatar (who are building the World Cup 2022 stadiums) weren’t allowed to go home for the funerals of their loved ones. WTF FIFA?!? (Also, WTF Qatar.)  

This is shameful. 

There are over 400,000 workers from Nepal working in Qatar right now, many of whom are building the infrastructure for the World Cup 2022.

Workers are forced to adhere to a cruel system of labor rules known as “kafala,” where they are essentially tied to a single employer, unable to move freely and often have to hand over their passports so they can’t leave. This screams human rights violations. 

In a report published by Amnesty International, Qatar was called out for failing to improve conditions for migrant workers. Including getting rid of the kafala system. The Nepalese government also called out FIFA and Qatar for their despicable behavior.   

In an interview with the Guardian, Nepal’s labor minister Tek Bahadur Gurung said,

After the earthquake of 25 April, we requested all companies in Qatar to give their Nepalese workers special leave and pay for their airfare home. While workers in some sectors of the economy have been given this, those on World Cup construction sites are not being allowed to leave because of the pressure to complete projects on time. 

[These workers] have lost relatives and their homes and are enduring very difficult conditions in Qatar. This is adding to their suffering.

Nothing will change for migrant workers until FIFA and its rich sponsors insist on it. These are the people who are bringing the World Cup to Qatar. But we are a small, poor country and these powerful organisations are not interested in listening to us.”

I hope the scrutiny FIFA is currently facing for all of their other offenses sheds some light on the issue of migrant workers. An organization with their global presence  should be held accountable to ensure the safety and rights of the human beings working for them.