FIFA today held a meeting with a broad range of political institutions as well as independent human and workers right organisations to discuss the advancement of human rights in Qatar ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The virtual round table included members of the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the Parliament of Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, Cyprus, Norway, Denmark, Romania, Italy and Slovenia, as well as senior level representatives from the EU Commission, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the United Nations, WHO, UNODC and UNESCO.
The political representatives had the opportunity to exchange with the Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, Hassan Al Thawadi, together with experts from ILO, BWI, ITUC and the Fare network, as well as FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Secretary General Fatma Samoura.
The dialogue gave the opportunity for stakeholders to raise their questions and concerns on a number of key topics, including workers’ welfare and LGBTQIA rights. They could hear from the expert organisations about the important progress that has been achieved since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar as well as the challenges that still remain.
“The topics that we are discussing are very important,” said the FIFA President. “For this very reason it’s important to have the chance to explain and go into more detail, hearing not so much from FIFA and Qatari authorities but from independent human rights experts on what the real situation is.”
“We have to acknowledge the enormous progress that has already been achieved. There are still challenges but the authorities here in Qatar deserve big credit from all of us. Issues continue to exist, like in all countries in the world. Not everything is perfect in our western world either. So we need to push for progress but also support those who want genuinely to make progress, acknowledging that it sometimes takes time.” Infantino added.
HE Hassan Al Thawadi, stressed the long term vision of the host country: “When we bid for the World Cup, we always said that this World Cup – the first in the Arab world and the Middle East – can be a catalyst for positive change on many different fronts,” “While people can debate how much progress has been made, no-one deny that there is a commitment to progress and that progress has been made. From day one, we have been committed to ensure a legacy is delivered before the tournament and that this legacy lasts beyond the tournament too, specifically on labour reform but on other topics as well.”
“Migrant workers are telling me: ‘Thank you to the World Cup, because there is big change in Qatar. Our working and living conditions are gradually improving and we are happy with the labour reforms.’” said Ambet Yuson General Secretary of the Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI). “They just have the wish that these reforms are strictly enforced and apply to all the migrant workers. But they are also worried what happens after the World Cup, and we want to see that these changes continue after the World Cup is over.”