LONDON: A letter demanding compensation for migrant workers who suffered human rights abuses during preparations for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar was delivered to the world football governing body FIFA along with a petition signed by more than a million people.
The letter and football shirts were delivered to the organization before its annual conference in Rwanda on March 16. At the conference, the organization is expected to face pressure from some member nations to correct what have been described as appalling abuses.
Avaaz, a US-based nonprofit that encourages global activism, along with Amnesty International, gathered one million signatures from people in 190 different countries.
Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice, Steve Cockburn, said that the upcoming meeting provides FIFA officials with another opportunity to “establish a firm plan and timetable to directly and quickly recompense workers and their families who suffered shocking human rights abuses to deliver a World Cup that was built on their sacrifice.”
He added: “Workers suffered horrific abuses to help deliver a World Cup tournament that made billions of dollars for FIFA yet brought a human cost of indebted families and workers’ deaths.
While nothing can make up for the loss of a loved one, FIFA can provide workers and their families with life-altering support that will make a difference.
The public “has come together to demand that FIFA take a fraction of the billions of dollars made off the sweat, blood, and lives of hundreds of thousands of these victims, and simply give them and their families what they are owed,” according to Bieta Andemariam, the US legal director of Avaaz.
These unique football jerseys were donated to FIFA’s official museum in Zurich, Switzerland, and their design was inspired by the blue uniforms and yellow vests worn by many of the migrant workers whose rights activists say were violated while they worked on World Cup stadiums, infrastructure, and other projects.
Cockburn argued that presenting the football shirts to the FIFA museum in Zurich was a way to pressure the organization to acknowledge the sacrifice of migrant workers and to address their unresolved demands for compensation.
FIFA had promised to create a legacy fund before the 2022 World Cup started, but they hadn’t said whether or not they’d use the money for worker compensation or benefits. The group has not disclosed any additional information regarding the functioning of the fund.