World Cup in Qatar: trading on human rights

Mohammed Suman Miah, 34, was a construction worker in Qatar who died suddenly after working outside all day in temperatures of up to 38°C. The year is 2020. Like thousands of invisible workers, his story was forgettable, but documented in an Amnesty International report. In the best time of his life. Qatar’s failure to investigate, correct and prevent worker deaths.

The 2022 World Cup kicks off in Qatar on 20 November. FIFA president Gianni Infantino sent a letter to the 32 participating countries, urging them to participate in the sporting event. “Focus on football”. “If Infantina wants the world to ‘focus on football,’ the solution is simple: FIFA can finally start tackling serious human rights issues rather than sweeping them under the rug,” said Steve Cockburn, Director of Economic and Social Justice. Amnesty International.

The choice of Qatar as the venue of the 2010 World Cup, which took the USA ahead of the vote, was not without controversy from the beginning. The shadow of corruption has hung over the leaders of FIFA, who now continue to spread the blame. Joseph Blatter, who ran the organization at the time, called it a “mistake” that the World Cup was held in the Emirate two weeks before the event. The climatic conditions of the Persian Gulf State meant that the World Cup could not be played in the summer, as it has been since the start of the World Cup.

This is not an economic waste, cost in human life. “It is not possible to know the number of deaths in the World Cup organization”guarantees Tide Carlos de las Heras, responsible for Sports and Human Rights, Amnesty International. Qatari authorities have confined themselves to reporting that 15,000 foreigners have died in their country since 2010, without giving reasons. 2021 investigation Guardian Since being chosen as the host of the 2022 World Cup, it is estimated that there have been 6,500 deaths in Qatar from occupational causes of people from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Amnesty International launched #PayUpFIFA campaign To demand that the federation allocate a portion of the proceeds from the World Cup to repair and compensate migrant workers living in unfortunate circumstances. “This compensation fund must be at least $440 million, the same amount that will be allocated as a prize to the participating teams”, says De las Heras. Amnesty International’s Head of Sport and Human Rights highlights that there are a dozen football associations that have joined the petition, such as those from Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, France and Belgium.. “The Royal Spanish Football Federation is still out of the game”, Explain. Amnesty International sent him seven letters inviting him to talk about “what role he can play in defending human rights in Qatar”. The organization says they are not responding to them. “We want funding and a public gesture of support for the migrants who lost their lives,” says De las Heras.

Since 2017, some labor laws have been passed in Qatar that improve conditions on paper. “It is now assumed that workers’ movement is allowed and there are improvements in wage conditions,” explains de las Heras. Workers contracted to work in Qatar and other countries in the region suffered system head onfound that the hired person is entirely dependent on the company that can revoke their visa. In some cases, they were forced to accept malicious clauses that forced them into debt, such as being paid a commission for their employment, and their passports were confiscated to prevent them from being charged or condemned. Union association is prohibited in Qatar. “There are still people trapped in labor exploitation with shifts of more than 16 hours a day” He reassures de las Heras. Amnesty International also noted deplorable working conditions and ill-treatment of domestic workers. “They are the great forgotten and they condemn non-payment and physical attacks in other countries there and in the region.”

The organization also participates in the advocacy of the rights of the LGTBIQ people on the occasion of the World Cup celebrations in the Emirate. “There are other human rights violations in Qatar, such as seven years in prison for having sex with someone of the same sex,” he says. “We sent LGTBI flagged wristbands from Amnesty International to the Spanish federation and we did not receive any response,” he adds.

Carlos de las Heras points out that Amnesty International did not participate in a “boycott” of the sporting event that could “promote football in other countries”. Note that other sports tournaments were held in undemocratic countries, such as the 1936 Berlin Olympics in Nazi Germany or the 1978 World Cup in Argentina during the dictatorship of Jorge Rafael Videla. Their claims focus on the creation of an economic compensation fund for workers. Moreover “Provisions for the awarding of any sporting event that requires respect for human rights”.

The power of gas mana

The biggest football tournament is held in a small but powerful and wealthy country. Only 11,586 square meters make up the State of Qatar, an area similar to the province of Murcia. An absolutist emirate that has ruled since the mid-19th century Al Thani dynasty and has been independent of the British protectorate since 1971. Its population has grown exponentially in recent years: from 10,000 in 1930 to more than 2.9 million today. Only about 10% of its residents are Qatari, about 330,000.

Its growth is largely due to oil and gas reserves. The emirate is home to the third largest gas exchange in the world and is the first producer of liquefied gas.. According to Ignacio Álvarez-Ossorio, professor of Arab and Islamic Studies, and professor Ignacio Gutiérrez, this allows it to be one of the countries with the highest per capita income, with a GDP per capita of $67,470 in 2022, which is almost twice. de Terán, in his article Train. pearl of the bay (Peninsula Editions).

Fossil fuel reserves strengthened its power position in the global investment board. He owns one of the world’s most important sovereign wealth funds. Qatar Investment Authority, which manages $450,000 million and invest in banks, power companies or football clubs like Paris Saint-Germain. In Spain, its investments are concentrated in “Iberdrola, Iberia, Inmobiliaria Colonial or Prisa Group”, Mention Álvarez-Ossorio and Gutíerrez. As a result of Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s official visit to Madrid in May 2022, an agreement was reached on new investments of $5,000 million.

Its capital influences world geopolitics. Journalists Javier Blas and Jack Farchy the world is for sale (Peninsula Editions) some examples. Qatar used Dutch trader Vitol to aid the Libyan rebels in their war against Gaddafi by supplying them with diesel and gasoline. The Qatari fund also joined forces with Swiss trading firm Glencore to buy a portion of the Russian government’s stake in Rosneft, a Moscow-based oil company, for $11 billion in 2016.

Álvarez-Ossorio and Gutíerrez, “Who would have imagined that a small peninsula inhabited by fishermen and camel drivers at the beginning of the 20th century would become a real economic, commercial and commercial emporium by the 21st century?” “Qatar is a clear example of how economic interests prevail over human rights.”, says Amnesty International’s Head of Sport and Human Rights.


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