Human Rights: the path to progress

  • Leading labour organisations assess achievements so far

  • Milestones highlighted at 72nd FIFA Congress

  • President Infantino: “Let’s recognise as well that not everything is perfect, that we need to do more but we are doing more.”

From the publication of FIFA’s landmark Human Rights Policy, and the creation of the FIFA Human Rights Advisory Board in 2017, to the introduction of new bidding requirements and ongoing engagement with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, Qatari authorities and human and workers’ rights organisations, FIFA has underlined its commitment to protecting rights and improving the welfare of everyone involved in delivering FIFA competitions. Human Rights: the path to progress documents how in 2010, when the FIFA World Cup 2022™ was awarded to Qatar, urgent calls for labour reforms were made. First shown at the 72nd FIFA Congress in Doha, this film hears from some of the most prominent lobbyists and experts in international workers’ rights, gives an overview of some of the progress achieved to date and highlights that necessary further work will continue during and beyond Qatar 2022™. Through the efforts of international organisations, the Supreme Committee, Qatari authorities and FIFA, some major progress has been achieved.

“The work that has been done by Qatar has been incredible in the last few years,” FIFA President, Gianni Infantino explained. “These seismic changes, which have been put in place to protect hundreds of thousands of workers, with the abolishment of the kafala system, with the introduction of minimum wages, with heat protection measures.” FIFA Secretary General, Fatma Samoura said strong mechanisms have been put in place in Qatar, to enforce heightened standards for FIFA World Cup™ workers. “These include joint inspections [with unions] on the construction sites,” the FIFA Secretary General explained, “checks on the conditions for construction workers, for example, regarding their recruitment, accommodation and protections on health and safety. Furthermore, labour rights checks are being conducted on all companies will deploy workforce on sites during the FIFA World Cup™.” Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation said these important measures are markedly improving the safety of workers. “The ILO [International Labour Organization] and the Ministry [of Labour] with us have indeed negotiated the reports that you can now see, those reports show a massive decline in the risk of loss of life. Qatar now has a law around heat stress. If every other country had one, I'd be really delighted.” Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of Building and Wood Workers International, outlined how an agreement signed with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy in 2016 has facilitated meaningful improvements for workers. “Our MOU with the Supreme Committee has two components,” he explained. “One is the joint inspection of health and safety. The second one is on the Workers’ Welfare Forum. The Workers’ Welfare Forum is a mechanism for the workers to raise their complaints.”

Max Tuñón, head of the ILO’s Project Office for the State of Qatar, outlined some of the remaining priorities for the ILO. “There is still work to be done on many fronts,” he said. “If we had to identify three priorities we would definitely highlight the need for full implementation of the kafala reforms to ensure that workers can benefit from labour mobility. Two: to ensure workers are paid their due wages on time. And three: to ensure that domestic workers rights are also protected.” In addition to labour reforms, FIFA has been actively consulting on LGBTQI+ right, explains Fare network’s executive director, Piara Powar. “We have written to FIFA, written to the Supreme Committee and had an engagement with both of them, in order to make sure that the questions that the community have, that their questions are answered that they feel safe.” Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy in Qatar, said hosting the competition has brought about significant opportunities for change. “In terms of legacy for the World Cup when it comes to labour rights, I'm proud to say that we're delivering the legacy before the tournament. The reforms have happened. The government and the country [were already] committed in terms of labour reforms. But the FIFA World Cup™ served as a catalyst to accelerate a lot of these reforms and push forward a number of these reforms.”