World Cup 2022: Football associations fail to engage with human rights risks of tournament
With less than nine months to go until the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, qualifying football teams do not appear to have grasped the extent of human rights risks in the country, nor their responsibilities to take action, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has found.
Data collected by the Resource Centre since 2016 shows migrant workers in Qatar are suffering from serious labour abuses. In the countdown to kick-off, football associations are preparing to make key decisions about their stay in Qatar, including booking hotels, security and transport, but have done little to set out how they are ensuring their choices will not make them complicit in well-documented abuses linked to these services.
Ahead of International Sports Day (8 February), the Resource Centre approached the first 12 teams to qualify for the Qatar World Cup to ask them questions on their human rights risk assessment and due diligence. Only six of the 12 football associations (Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland) responded with any information. None of them addressed the questions regarding risk assessment or due diligence in any meaningful detail. Among the six which failed to respond, football associations said the questions were “irrelevant” or “inappropriate”.
Isobel Archer, Gulf Programme Manager at the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, said: “It was certainly welcome to see some football associations, like the Dutch and Swiss, already engaging with human rights NGOs, but it is extremely concerning only a minority are factoring human rights issues into their choice of hotels and other facilities. Football associations, along with FIFA and its sponsors, must uphold labour rights standards in the countries they visit and work in – especially in Qatar, which has one of the worst labour rights records in the world, despite welcome reforms.
“There’s still time to turn things around for Qatar’s migrant workforce, but only if football associations take action now. They are at the very heart of the World Cup and are uniquely placed to put pressure on brands and trigger effective changes across a number of Qatar’s industries where workers pay the price. If they choose to engage seriously with human rights issues it could be transformative for the millions of workers toiling at the centre of what is meant to be one of the greatest and inclusive sporting spectacles in the world. In these last few months, teams and associations could use their influence to amplify the collective work already done to improve labour rights in Qatar and leave behind a lasting legacy for the World Cup 2022.”
Since January 2016, the Resource Centre has recorded 197 cases of alleged labour abuse against workers in Qatar, with 54 of these recorded over the past year alone. Hospitality workers were affected in 20 cases, security workers in 24, transport workers in 13 and cleaners in 25. Additional data produced by the Resource Centre in 2021 showed migrant workers in Qatar’s hotels are at high risk of serious labour abuse – even in hotels endorsed by FIFA to provide luxury match packages.
For more information about our engagement with football associations or our data on abuse allegations in Qatar, please feel free to reach out: [email protected]
OUR WORK ON THE FIFA QATAR WORLD CUP 2022
In November 2021, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has launched its Qatar World Cup Parallel Portal, shining a light on the reality for workers behind the flashy football news and glossy promotional façade in official materials. The Parallel Portal draws together data on human rights issues connected with World Cup-related companies and projects.
Data currently available on the Parallel Portal:
- How Qatar's luxury hotels are failing to protect migrant workers from exploitation and abuse ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022.
- The latest aggregate data on allegations of labour abuse against companies operating in Qatar and projects linked to the World Cup 2022 (stadiums, infrastructure projects, transport developments, hotels, leisure facilities, recruiters).
- Profile pages for football associations and FIFA sponsors, featuring information on their human rights policies, position statements and actions related to the World Cup 2022.
The World Cup Portal will be regularly updated with new information, including:
- The latest research findings and recommendations from civil society partners and other stakeholders on World Cup 2022 associated companies.
- Data on allegations of abuse against apparel companies producing teams’ uniforms (linked to our Apparel Dashboards).
- Updated profile pages for national team sponsors, official providers and licensees of the World Cup, and more as these are announced, featuring information on their human rights policies, position statements and actions related to the World Cup 2022.
- Perspectives and testimony from migrant workers and support organisations in sending countries on the experiences of returned workers.
NOTES 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.
- Our World Cup Parallel Portal shining a light on the reality for workers behind the tournament.
- Our Allegations Tracker records publicly reported cases of human and labour rights abuse committed by businesses against migrant workers in the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
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MEDIA CONTACT: Priyanka Mogul, Media Officer, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
[email protected] / +44 7880 956239