FIFA says was slow to act on Qatar labor rights

Wed Apr 20, 2016 1:23pm EDT
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DOHA (Reuters) - FIFA was late to raise concerns about the treatment of migrant laborers on World Cup stadiums in Qatar and tournament organizers should do more to improve working conditions, an official from world soccer's governing body said on Wednesday.

FIFA did not raise concerns about the abuse of laborers with the Qatar 2022 organizing committee until last May, five years after the hosting rights had been secured, said Federico Addiechi, FIFA's Head of Corporate Social Responsibility.

He added that prior to 2015, FIFA did not consider the construction of stadiums its responsibility.

"When it comes to human rights policy... we started, in connection with Qatar and its bidding process for 2022, late, yes," Addiechi told reporters and trade union members at a human rights conference in Doha.

"As soon as we acknowledged... that an organization like FIFA should be involved in addressing possible violations of human rights in stadiums, we did (contact Qatar)," he said.

Qatari officials said they were working to resolve issues raised over working conditions and that they needed time to fix problems in the labor system.

Two weeks after Amnesty International reported on ongoing abuses in Qatar's preparations for the World Cup, Addiechi said FIFA would not use the threat of removing hosting rights in order to push for reform.

He said FIFA wanted to work with organizers to improve conditions for foreign workers hired by sub-contractors on tournament sites.

"We would like to see the efforts that are being made to implement welfare standards for migrant workers, that this trickle down to the lowest part of the supply chain," he said.   Continued...

The FIFA logo is seen outside the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, December 17, 2015. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich