Media Release

Fédération Internationale de Football Association

FIFA Strasse 20, P.O Box 8044 Zurich, Switzerland, +41 (0) 43 222 7777

Tuesday 14 December 2021, 14:00

FIFA discusses human rights with political stakeholders and experts ahead of Qatar 2022

FIFA today held a meeting with a broad range of political institutions as well as independent human and workers right organisations to discuss the advancement of human rights in Qatar ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022.

The virtual round table included members of the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the Parliament of Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, Cyprus, Norway, Denmark, Romania, Italy and Slovenia, as well as senior level representatives from the EU Commission, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the United Nations, WHO, UNODC and UNESCO.

The political representatives had the opportunity to exchange with the Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, HE Hassan Al Thawadi, together with experts from ILO, BWI, ITUC and the Fare network, as well as FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Secretary General Fatma Samoura.

The dialogue gave the opportunity for stakeholders to raise their questions and concerns on a number of key topics, including workers' welfare and LGBTQIA rights. They could hear from the expert organisations about the important progress that has been achieved since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar as well as the challenges that still remain.

“The topics that we are discussing are very important,” said the FIFA President. “For this very reason it’s important to have the chance to explain and go into more detail, hearing not so much from FIFA and Qatari authorities but from independent human rights experts on what the real situation is.”

“We have to acknowledge the enormous progress that has already been achieved. There are still challenges but the authorities here in Qatar deserve big credit from all of us. Issues continue to exist, like in all countries in the world. Not everything is perfect in our western world either. So we need to push for progress but also support those who want genuinely to make progress, acknowledging that it sometimes takes time.” Infantino added.

HE Hassan Al Thawadi, stressed the long term vision of the host country: "When we bid for the World Cup, we always said that this World Cup - the first in the Arab world and the Middle East - can be a catalyst for positive change on many different fronts,” “While people can debate how much progress has been made, no-one deny that there is a commitment to progress and that progress has been made. From day one, we have been committed to ensure a legacy is delivered before the tournament and that this legacy lasts beyond the tournament too, specifically on labour reform but on other topics as well.”

“Migrant workers are telling me: ‘Thank you to the World Cup, because there is big change in Qatar. Our working and living conditions are gradually improving and we are happy with the labour reforms.’” said Ambet Yuson General Secretary of the Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI). “They just have the wish that these reforms are strictly enforced and apply to all the migrant workers. But they are also worried what happens after the World Cup, and we want to see that these changes continue after the World Cup is over.”

Max Tuñon, Head of the ILO Office in Doha, also spoke in detail about the labour reforms that have been introduced and the work that still remains: “There are still issues over implementation, with employers taking retaliation against workers who seek to change jobs; wage claims take too long; the structures and complaint mechanisms are there, but it can be months before the worker receives his or her wages. There are no quick fixes. It takes time to build institutions and ensure they are carrying out their duties, and even to change the mindset of employers. It’s not an overnight change. But I would say that reforms have taken place at an incredibly impressive pace.”

Tim Noonan, Director of campaigns of the International Trade Union Confederation, commented: “I’ve been working in workers rights for over 25 years, I’ve seen enormous challenges, but I’ve never seen a whole country’s labour laws shift in such a positive direction around the hosting of a tournament. The world’s attention is on Qatar. There is still a significant way to go, but they have already come a long way. Now the responsibility is also on others including multinational companies operating here to ensure that, at very minimum, legal changes are implemented.”

“Our primary concern for 2022 is the need to ensure visitors do not suffer discrimination. We want a World Cup that sets a high mark in this respect and are working with FIFA to this end,” said Piara Powar, Executive Director of the Fare network. “Our main question here in Qatar remains on LGBTQIA rights and specifically on the law that criminalises homosexuality.

"We know that many LGBTQIA people are fearful of coming, of what awaits. We know that there is a complex cultural element and that part of the messaging that needs to go out is over reinforcing expected behaviours. But respect for local culture should not preclude reaching out to ensure the safety of LGBTQIA communities. We can offer a dialogue with these groups and hear concerns directly and offer reassurances. We look forward to progress and change and to seeing people of every community, every type of human being, in this amazing country.”