Migrant workers gain “dignity and pride” from “hard work”, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said when questioned about reports of human rights abuses in Qatar while building World Cup infrastructure.
- Infantino was asked about how FIFA is responding to ongoing claims of migrant workers dying in Qatar while building infrastructure
- About 6,500 migrant workers have reportedly died during World Cup stadium preparations
- His comments come three months after claiming biennial World Cups could help African people who might otherwise find “death in the sea”
Alongside seven new stadiums, the Gulf nation has embarked on widespread infrastructure projects including a new airport, roads, public transport, hotels, and even a new city, which will host the final.
Organisations including Human Rights Watch have published research on the status of Qatar’s roughly two million migrant workers, who make up 95 per cent of the country’s labour workforce.
This research has found Qatar’s labour laws “have contributed to abuse, exploitation, and even forced labour,” including non-payment of wages, crowded and unsanitary living conditions, and excessive working hours.
Despite these reports, Infantino said workers would feel proud to have the chance to build stadiums for the tournament in the Gulf nation, earning a living rather than receiving charity.
The comments came after Infantino was asked at the global conference of the Milken Institute in Los Angeles if FIFA would use its profits to make “any sort of commitment” to help families of workers who died in Qatar.
Infantino did not directly address that point when responding to MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle on stage, instead pointing to the introduction of a minimum wage and enhanced labour rights.
“Let’s not forget one thing … when we speak about this topic, which is work, even hard work, tough work,” Infantino said.
“America is a country of immigration.
“My parents immigrated as well from Italy to Switzerland.
“Not so far, but still.
When asked about the claim that 6,500 workers have died building infrastructure to stage the Middle East’s first World Cup this November, Infantino said he was only aware of three people dying on the construction sites of stadiums.
However, he conceded that many more could have died elsewhere.
“Now 6,000 might have died in other works and so on,” Infantino said.
“And of course, FIFA is not the police of the world or responsible for everything that happens around the world.
“But thanks to FIFA, thanks to football we have been able to address the status of all the 1.5 million workers, working in Qatar.”
Construction workers, mostly men from south-west Asia, live with multiple people in the same bedrooms in Qatar, while their families remain in their home countries.
Infantino’s comments come three months after he claimed biennial World Cups could create more opportunities for African people who might otherwise find “death in the sea” by crossing the Mediterranean.