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Press Release

10 Aug 2022

100 days to kick-off: Paper pledges on labour rights reform in Qatar need actioning

In November 2021, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre launched its World Cup Qatar 2022 Parallel Portal to expose the reality for migrant workers behind the flashy football news and promotional façade presented by the tournament organisers. The Parallel Portal draws together data on human rights issues connected with World Cup-linked companies and projects, monitoring labour rights abuses relating to contractors, sponsors and national football associations, as well as specific stadiums and hotels. 

Behind the glossy images celebrating global diversity, migrant workers – who comprise 95% of the workforce in Qatar – continue to suffer serious labour rights abuses. But there is still time to turn things around for Qatar’s migrant workforce before kick-off in November 2022 and leave a positive legacy beyond. 

Isobel Archer, Gulf Programme Manager, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, said: “Migrant workers are the real beating heart of the tournament, with recruitment of thousands of workers from South, South-East Asia and East Africa ramping up ahead of the World Cup. Our research demonstrates labour reforms in Qatar have not been adequately or consistently implemented, with little improvement on the ground for workers. Non-payment of wages, inability to change jobs and extortionate recruitment fees remain prevalent, resulting in heartache and misery for Qatar’s migrant workers and their families. 

“Qatar has one of the worst labour rights records in the world and is one of the least transparent for mapping business interests, making it difficult to identify the brands associated with any potential human rights risks. This makes it even more crucial for all organisations to undertake human rights due diligence before they travel to Doha this November.  

“However, as we near the 100-day countdown to kick-off, our data on abuse allegations, collected in our World Cup Parallel Portal, shows too many football associations and hotels are not yet fully engaging with their human rights responsibilities in a meaningful and impactful way. The window for action is closing but there is still an opportunity for true labour rights reform to be the legacy of the World Cup. Those involved must be transparent about the risks to migrant workers in Doha, while also clearly committing to immediately remediating any rights violations that might occur. Football associations, sponsors, FIFA and other stakeholders have a final chance push for lasting change in a region where it is much needed.” 

Since November 2021, we’ve posted the following information on our World Cup Parallel Portal: 

The truth behind Qatar’s labour rights "improvements” 

Labour violations continue despite “sweeping” reforms introduced by Qatar since 2015. While the reforms have been much lauded by the international community, our data shows an increase in the frequency of reported abuses involving migrant workers since 2016. 

Two in five of all cases of alleged abuse recorded across the Gulf Cooperation Council countries impact migrant workers in Qatar. Hotel workers in Qatar report barriers to change jobs despite abolishment of the no-objection certificate in September 2020. 

Find out more here

Migrant worker abuse in World Cup luxury hotels 

Teams, fans, media and corporate sponsors will all need to book hotels for their stay, but our research on hotel brands show they are failing to safeguard workers during the recruitment process and do not understand the risks to workers. 

Most hotel brands have failed to demonstrate they are taking necessary action to protect migrant workers, who suffer serious abuses, with only a minority of the multinational brands – who are set to profit from fully booked hotels – demonstrating modest improvements in transparency. 

Find out more here

Football associations’ failure to engage with tournament human rights risks 

We approached all 31 football associations of the qualified teams with questions on their human rights risk assessment and due diligence. The results revealed teams do not appear to have grasped the extent of human rights risks in the country, nor their responsibilities to act. 

One third (12) of football associations provided some information in answer to our questions, but none addressed questions on human rights risk assessment or due diligence in any meaningful detail – accepted practice in other sectors. In addition, only one association – Germany – has a publicly available human rights policy. 

Find out more here

What did it take to build the World Cup stadiums?  

While the eight stadiums have been extolled for their “futuristic” and “state-of-the-art” design features, what carefully choreographed promotional materials have left out are the serious allegations of abuse against migrant workers linked to the World Cup stadiums.

Our Parallel Portal recorded 34 cases of alleged migrant worker abuse across all eight stadiums, including allegations of non-payment of wages and inhumane living conditions. 

Find out more here

Visit the Qatar World Cup Parallel Portal to find out more about the human cost of the FIFA World Cup 2022.  

Note to editors: 

  • The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre is an international NGO that tracks the human rights impacts (positive and negative) of more than 10,000 companies across nearly 200 countries. We seek responses from companies when concerns are raised by civil society. 
  • The World Cup Parallel Portal is a centralised database bringing together relevant information on World Cup-related projects (stadiums, hotels infrastructure, etc.), contractors, sponsors, national football associations and allegations of labour abuse against migrant workers in Qatar. Activists, civil society and the media can use the platform as a resource to find information relating to the human rights impacts of the World Cup. 
  • The Resource Centre has tracked publicly made allegations of labour abuse across the Gulf Cooperation Council countries since January 2016. We can provide data on cases impacting workers including what sectors they work in, the types of abuse reported and the nationalities of those affected.