FIFA President plans Qatar visit to discuss labour rights

Sepp Blatter due to hold talks in Gulf state before June to chart progress over labour abuse concerns
FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
By Andy Sambidge
Sat 22 Mar 2014 02:34 AM

FIFA President Sepp Blatter will visit Qatar in the next couple of months to discuss progress on labour issues with authorities.

The head of world football's governing body will hold talks with Qatari officials before FIFA's 2014 Congress in June while a FIFA delegation will also visit the Gulf state to gain a first-hand insight.

The move was announced following the conclusion of a two day meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee held in Zurich.

FIFA Executive Committee member Dr Theo Zwanziger, who has been mandated to coordinate all talks on the issue of labour rights in the 2022 FIFA World Cup host country, said talkss had been held with Qatari authorities, civil society organisations, the International Labour Organisation, trade unions, FIFPro and Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy "to discuss feasible and sustainable solutions".

The Executive approved this approach and expressed its belief that FIFA, though not responsible for any country’s domestic laws, can help improve the situation of labour rights and working conditions in Qatar.

It also agreed that the matter "needed to be constantly and very closely looked at".

"We have some responsibility but we cannot interfere in the rights of workers," FIFA president Sepp Blatter told media at a press conference.

"We are insisting that the responsibilities lie first with the state of Qatar and secondly with the companies employing the workers," Blatter said.

Since September, unions and human rights campaigners have denounced conditions for Qatar's migrant worker population.

Most of the labourers working on the new stadiums and vast infrastructure projects ahead of football's biggest tournament in Qatar are from South Asia.

Qatar has been under fire for its treatment of migrant workers in the construction industry after Britain's Guardian newspaper reported in September that dozens of Nepali labourers had died.

Amnesty International and the International Trade Union Confederation have also criticised the treatment of migrant labourers in Qatar, fearing the problem could worsen with the extra construction work needed for the tournament.

Last month, Qatari World Cup organisers produced a 50-page document outlining stricter measures that would apply to contractors involved in building work for the tournament.

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