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Rights groups urge FIFA to earmark $440mln for Qatar migrant workers

Amnesty International and other rights groups have called on FIFA to set aside $440 million to compensate migrant workers in Qatar for “human rights abuses” during preparations for the 2022 World Cup.

In a letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, the groups said world soccer’s governing body should also work with the host nation to protect the rights of migrant workers in the future.

“To remedy the litany of abuses committed since 2010, when FIFA awarded hosting rights to Qatar without requiring any improvement in labour protections, the organisations called on FIFA to at least match the $440m it hands out in prize money at the World Cup,” Amnesty said in a statement.

A 48-page report by Amnesty, Reality Check 2021, said that practices such as withholding salaries and charging workers to change jobs were rife.

The Qatar government, which has denied the accusations, said it had introduced various reforms in the last five years, including a new national minimum wage and the removal of exit permits.

“The progress made by Qatar is irrefutable. The Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund, established by the government to provide payments owed to workers, has disbursed 110 million pounds ($136.37 million) in the past two years alone,” the labour ministry said in a statement to Reuters.

“The new report undermines much of the goodwill that has been generated. Engagement will always yield better results than condemnation, especially when they are unreasonably demanded.”

In response to the letter, FIFA said it was assessing Amnesty’s proposition and implementing an “unprecedented due diligence process in relation to the protection of workers involved”.

FIFA added that it was working with the organising committee and had already compensated a number of workers.

“As part of the Supreme Committee’s effort to ensure repayment of recruitment fees, workers have received payments of a total $22.6 million as of December 2021, with an additional $5.7 million committed by contractors,” it said.

The World Cup will run from Nov. 21 to Dec 18.

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