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06 October 2018

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14/10/2013 - 15:44 GMT

Trade Union Leaders Urge FIFA To “Put Pressure On Qatar” Over Labour-Abuse At Construction Sites


Monday, 14th October, 2013

FIFA need to stop "ducking away" from the issue of alleged human-rights violations in Qatar after conditions at World Cup construction sites were described as slave labour by a trade union leader.

Johan Lindholm, president of Swedish trade union Byggnads, has urged football's world governing body to act to prevent further incidents of abuse and human-rights violations at venues for the 2022 World Cup.


An investigative report from The Guardian last month revealed "evidence of forced labour" on World Cup projects made worse reading by the deaths of dozens of Nepali workers.

Qatar has one of the world's highest percentages of migrant workers and the report highlighted many of the serious problems plaguing the mostly-unskilled expatriate population including non-payment of wages.

A team of leaders from labour and trade unions, under the banner of the Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI), spent four days in Qatar on a fact-finding mission to verify the newspaper report.

Lindholm, part of the BWI team, today revealed the fierce extent of the problem in Qatar, telling Swedish newspaper Expressen: "FIFA are ducking away here.

"FIFA has a huge responsibility to put pressure on the government of Qatar so that the workers get decent and proper conditions.

"[Otherwise] what message does that send to young people, who play football, from the highest representatives of world football: that human rights do not matter?"

FIFA president Sepp Blatter had already promised a look into the matter of human-rights abuses, with the chief saying earlier this month: "FIFA cannot interfere with the labour rights of any country, but we cannot ignore them."

The BWI team went on to find evidence for a lot of the revelations made last month, Lindholm added. Gross labour abuses, including living in inhospitable conditions, are alleged to be the norm at construction sites, some of which are not necessarily part of the World Cup project.

"Some told me that they had jointly scraped together money to send to their dead colleagues' families", Lindholm explained. "The company was not there for them. It is completely incomprehensible.

"A system, called the Kafala system, has been established, which means that when [the workers] get there their documents and passports are taken away. It makes it impossible for them to get health care and they cannot get home to their native countries.

"There is slavery. The building sites are dangerous and there is an unsanitary misery in housing.

"There are young people who are lured there in the belief that they can make money to send home to their families in Nepal, Bangladesh, India and so on. But their dreams very quickly became a shambles."

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