From the TUC

The case for FIFA to #rerunthevote is as strong on workers’ rights as corruption

01 Jun 2014, By

Today’s revelations in the Sunday Times (£) mean that FIFA’s Congress this month – ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil – has a massive case to answer. But not just about corruption. The case for FIFA to rerun the vote on whether the 2022 World Cup should be held in Qatar is as strong on workers’ rights as corruption.

FIFA Vice President Jim Boyce, who represents the Northern Ireland Football Association on the FIFA Executive, has said that if the current corruption allegations are proved, he would back re-running the vote (although FIFA has been ‘investigating’ the allegations for two years already.) We’ve corresponded with Jim before, on the issue of workers’ rights, and he’s raised the issue on the FIFA Executive, so we know he’s an honourable man.

But FIFA needs to get real about what’s going on in Qatar, and that’s wholesale slavery for migrant workers. The TUC delegation at the ITUC World Congress last month in Berlin heard from Abdes Ouaddou, former Fulham footballer, about the way his employer treated him, but he acknowledged that as a footballer, he was in a much better position than the tens of thousands of migrant construction and domestic workers who face not just lies about wages and restrictions on travel, but actual physical harm and even death. The ITUC is running a twitter Thunderclap ahead of the Congress and needs your help over the next 10 days.

There’s clearly a case for FIFA to answer about how the Qataris bought the world cup, but there’s a far bigger case to answer about how FIFA deals with the abuse of worker rights, and about changing its rules so that future World Cups cannot be awarded to countries that don’t abide by the fundamental core conventions of the ILO. For the 2022 World Cup, the ITUC has five key demands for Qatar:

  • end the kafala system that means employers hold the passports of workers, and need to grant permission before they can take another job;
  • allow freedom of association and collective bargaining;
  • pay a minimum wage for all workers;
  • introduce grievance procedures; and
  • work with responsible international recruitment agencies.

As Shadow International Development Secretary Jim Murphy MP said today, on the back of his own visit in March to look at the conditions facing migrant construction workers:

“If FIFA doesn’t act it’s lost the right to lead the world of football.”

There must be no World Cup in Qatar without workers’ rights. Rerun The Vote now!