Rival fans come together to demand workers' right in Qatar
TUC launches ‘Playfair Qatar’ campaign as FIFA’s Zwanziger goes rogue
“Qatar will not host World Cup!” screamed several headlines yesterday after FIFA executive member Theo Zwanziger decided to provide his own personal opinion on the controversy-loaded location for 2022’s tournament. “Qatar still official World Cup site despite off-beat comments”, would be an equally accurate title.
Since Dr Zwanziger is expected to step down from FIFA next May, if he’s to have any say over the matter FIFA will have to pull its finger out and make a decision in a hurry. If not, Theo’s opinion will have very little bearing on Qatar’s fate as hosts.
However, in some ways, that might be good news. Shamefully, Dr Zwanziger – the FIFA executive member charged with addressing the issue of the appalling conditions under which the 1.4m strong migrant population is building the World Cup infrastructure – made no reference at all in his statement to the deaths of hundreds of construction workers. Instead, a man whose investigations will have shown him the evidence that 4,000 people will die working on the World Cup before the tournament starts, appears more concerned about the effect on heat on queuing fans than he is on its effect on a construction worker putting in a 10-hour shift in a 50 degree August heat wave.
“Fans from around the world will be coming and travelling in this heat and the first life-threatening case will trigger an investigation by a state prosecutor. That is not something FIFA Exco members want to answer for.”
Does that mean that FIFA Exco members are willing to answer for the deaths of thousands of workers? Based on official death rates, by the time Dr Zwanziger is replaced on FIFA’s executive another 280 workers are likely to have paid the ultimate penalty for FIFA’s bad choices. It is extremely disappointing that in ‘breaking ranks’, all Zwanziger did was provide another vague misdirection from the real scandal occurring on Qatar’s building sites.
“Medics say that they cannot accept responsibility with a World Cup taking place under these conditions,” Zwanziger said. It seems increasingly obvious that no one will. We won’t let them get away with it.
The TUC has launched the Playfair Qatar campaign to bring together British opposition to Qatar’s modern slavery. Football fans around the country are angry and appalled at what is being done in the name of their beloved sport, and through the networks of independent supporters’ groups and trade unions, Playfair Qatar aims to build a powerful voice to force government, business and sporting bodies – here and internationally – to talk about the only thing that really matters: saving workers lives and giving them back their rights.
We’re starting with a simple show of support. Visit the website for more information on how to get involved.
You can also follow @PlayfairQatar on Twitter and like us on Facebook.