FIFA president Sepp Blatter has described working conditions in Qatar as “unacceptable” as pressure builds on football’s governing body to take action over concerns relating to the construction of the stadia to host the 2022 World Cup finals.
Blatter met International Trade Union Confederation chief Michael Sommer on Wednesday to discuss the abuse of migrant workers in Qatar, which has been brought into focus by a 166-page report released by human rights group Amnesty International at the weekend.
In that document, it was claimed that foreigners brought into Qatar to work on World Cup building projects were subjected to “non-payment of wages, harsh and dangerous working conditions, and shocking standards of accommodation”.
Blatter has reacted by agreeing that “fair working conditions must be introduced quickly, consistently and on a sustained basis in Qatar” following a one-hour meeting with Sommer and German Football Association (DFB) president Wolfgang Niersbach on Wednesday.
The Swiss supremo, who met the Emir of Qatar earlier this month, believes the Gulf country is taking its responsibility for change seriously, but called on global leaders to also play their part in improving conditions.
“Economic and political leaders must contribute to improving the unacceptable situation in Qatar,” Blatter said in a FIFA statement.
“That is why I welcome the initiative shown by the DFB and ITUC because together we can achieve change. I am convinced that Qatar is taking the situation very seriously.
“These very discussions about Qatar show just what an important role football can play in generating publicity and thus bringing about change.”
Amnesty International’s secretary general Salil Shetty had said earlier this week: “Our findings indicate an alarming level of exploitation in the construction sector in Qatar.
“FIFA has a duty to send a strong public message that it will not tolerate human rights abuses on construction projects related to the World Cup.
“Qatar is recruiting migrant workers at a remarkable rate to support its construction boom, with the population increasing at 20 people an hour. Many migrants arrive in Qatar full of hopes, only to have these crushed soon after they arrive.
“There’s no time to delay – the government must act now to end this abuse.”
Following Wednesday’s meeting, Blatter mandated FIFA executive committee member Dr Theo Zwanziger to continue talks with the ITUC and involve human rights and labour organisations.