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Mon 10 Oct 2016 12:13 PM

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FIFA faces lawsuit over Qatar World Cup labourer plight – report

Netherlands Trade Union Confederation filing case on behalf of Bangladeshi construction worker

FIFA faces lawsuit over Qatar World Cup labourer plight – report
Construction workers on Khalifa International Stadium ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar on December 30, 2015 in Doha, Qatar. (Getty Images)

Football’s governing body FIFA is facing legal action over alleged complicity in maltreatment of workers on Qatar World Cup 2022 construction sites, according to the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

The lawsuit is due to be lodged in the Swiss courts by the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) on behalf of a Bangladeshi migrant workers named as Nadim Sharaful Alam.

A letter sent to FIFA’s new president Gianni Infantino on Sunday night by lawyers acting for Alam and FNV reportedly informs the sports body of the draft writ not yet filed in court, and gives the sports body three weeks to accept complicity and pay damages otherwise the case will go to court.

The damages sought by Alam are “relatively modest”, the newspaper said. Still, if the action is successful it could set a legal precedent and open the door for thousands of other labourers to make similar claims.

Qatar has come under fire from human rights organisations in recent years for alleged maltreatment of low-income migrant workers, including those building the stadium and other infrastructure for the World Cup tournament the country is to host in 2022.

Crisis-hit FIFA, which has been forced to defend itself over ongoing corruption allegations that led to the departure of former president Sepp Blatter, has consistently argued that does not have responsibility for wider “societal problems” in countries hosting its games.

Still, it has claimed it is engaging with the Qatar government to urge it to improve working conditions on World Cup stadium sites.

A judge in 2014 cleared Qatar of any wrongdoing during the FIFA bidding process and allowed it still to host the 2022 tournament.

However, in the letter to Infantino, reported the Guardian, lawyers for Alam and FVN call on Fifa to “acknowledge that it has acted wrongfully by awarding the World Cup 2022 to Qatar without demanding the assurance that Qatar observes fundamental human and labour rights vis-à-vis migrant construction workers whose work is related to the 2022 World Cup.”

It says Fifa should have demanded the abolition of Qatar’s restrictive ‘kafala’ employment sponsorship system, and other labour rights for construction workers.

The letter reportedly adds: “Alternatively Fifa should acknowledge that it should not have awarded the World Cup 2022 to Qatar.”

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