Qatar Stadium

Qatar World Cup: Players and migrant workers discuss labour conditions

18 May 2021
Football players from all backgrounds are concerned about human rights in Qatar ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and want to know how they can play an active role in bringing about lasting change in the host country.

With the collaboration of global union, Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI), and human rights organisation Amnesty International, FIFPRO has created a briefing document to assist these players. The document provides independent information about Qatar, including the current state of human rights, recent labour reforms and the conditions of migrant workers. It was recently sent to FIFPRO’s 64 member unions and is being shared with players all over the world.

In the past months, FIFPRO and BWI have been closely cooperating and coordinating a number of other initiatives to help footballers who want to engage proactively on labour rights issues in Qatar. The first of these took place on May 11 and brought migrant workers and players face-to-face in an online video call. The 90-minute call was organised to enable players and workers to connect in a safe and confidential environment; it allowed workers to share their experiences and players to find out first-hand about their lives in Qatar.

The workers, some of whom have helped build 2022 FIFA World Cup venues and infrastructure, were invited to participate on the video call by BWI, which has campaigned for fundamental workers’ rights in Qatar since 2010.

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FIFPRO coordinated the group of footballers from Australia, Europe and Latin America with their respective national player unions. During the call, the players asked workers about their daily working conditions and what they can do to help safeguard human rights.

The workers spoke of recent positive changes, including the abolition of the Kafala system and the introduction of elected worker representation on workplace committees. But they stressed it is critical the government implements reforms across the country – and not only on official FIFA venues. Conditions must continue to improve after 2022, when the spotlight on Qatar has dimmed.

In the coming months, FIFPRO will continue to cooperate with BWI to create opportunities for interested players to engage directly with workers and provide support to those who want to use their voice to improve human rights in Qatar.

FIFPRO is concerned by the detention in Qatar on May 4 of Malcolm Bidali, a Kenyan security guard who has written a blog about the plight of migrant workers and, a week before his arrest, spoke to trade union officials about his experiences of working in the country.

As an organisation, FIFPRO is committed to continue pushing for a lasting legacy from the 2022 FIFA World Cup that results in all workers in Qatar gaining from legislative reforms and all individuals, including women and the LGBTQ community, benefitting from human rights improvements.

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