Just a day after Qatar’s sports minister proclaimed his country’s government is cracking down on the inhumane working conditions that have plagued the migrant workers building facilities for the 2022 World Cup, Amnesty International officials have come out to say it’s not good enough.
Per Sports Illustrated:
Amnesty International says that Qatar, the host of the 2022 World Cup, has “failed” to do anything about the abuse of workers who continue to build stadiums for the tournament.
The organization, which campaigns “to end grave abuses of human rights,” has released a report titled “No Extra Time: How Qatar is Still Failing on Workers’ Rights Ahead of the World Cup.”
The report is scathing, but not surprising, considering previous reports that have alleged the country isn’t paying its migrant workforce, or worse, turning a blind eye to on-the-job dangers that could kill thousands.
“Recognizing a problem is not the same as dealing with it,” the Amnesty International report states. ” Close to four years since Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup, it remains unclear whether the government is really prepared to take the decisive steps necessary to stop the dreadful abuse.”
Of particular concern to critics is the kalafa, or labor sponsorship program, that provides more rights to employers than employees. The system, which is also used in other Middle Eastern countries, gives employers the power to issue an exit permit, which if abused, can keep workers, most of whom come from India and Nepal, in Qatar against their will.
Qatar’s government introduced measures in May that could curtail the kalafa system, but Amnesty International charges they may not be “serious” enough. Per the report:
“A failure to implement serious reforms that ensure respect for workers’ rights in the coming months, will call into question whether the Qatari authorities are serious about reform. The legacy of the FIFA 2022 World Cup would be the hundreds of thousands of workers who were exploited to make it happen. … Time is running out fast.”
The 2022 World Cup could kick off as soon as January 2022, instead of the usual date in June, making the timeline even shorter than usual to complete the billions of dollars worth of new builds. FIFA has been contemplating moving the tournament to the winter months to avoid the subjecting participants and spectators to long stretches outdoors in the dangerously hot Middle Eastern summer climate.
Amid all this, Qatar is also sharing the unwanted spotlight with FIFA over allegations of corruption surrounding the World Cup bidding process in which it has been alleged Qatari officials offered and FIFA executive accepted bribes for votes. A FIFA-ordered report from independent investigator Michael Garcia was completed earlier this year, but FIFA’s judiciary arm, as well as, FIFA President Sepp Blatter have declared it will be kept secret. Some contend what’s in the report might provide overwhelming evidence to strip Qatar of its hosting rights.