World Cup to Qatar has improved workers rights – new report
World Cup: Qatar hosting 'not the right message'
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According to the independent sports think tank Fifa Ethics and Regulation Watch (FERW), a major survey it has carried out in Qatar among migrant workers has found improvements in pay, conditions, and general treatment of those employed in the emirate. However, the think tank could find little evidence that FIFA itself was responsible for these improvements, which the report’s author believes is a “missed opportunity” by football’s supreme governing body.
Instead the authors of the report have concluded that international attention on the emirate and worldwide media exposure has had a much greater impact.
Asked, “Is the World Cup helping to improve human rights and labour conditions in Qatar?”, a staggering 95 percent said yes and just one in 20 (5 percent) said no.
Other questions about the results of the reforms, which were overseen in part by the International Labour Organisation, found, a majority saying their working environment and treatment had improved, while two small groups believed that conditions had enhanced for some (53 percent), or the laws needed further enforcement (16 percent) and just 13 percent, who said they had not felt any benefit from the improvements.
Robert Oulds, the report author, said: “We came to the project with an open mind, but aware of conflicting press reports about the situation on the ground. Some painted a dystopian image of the emirate, while others a rose tinted one.
“Our report found a more complicated picture, but we were able to identify, then verify through interviews with ordinary workers that there had been significant legislative and regulatory improvements in recent years with these being felt by all migrant workers, not just those working on the development of the World Cup stadiums.
“We then tried to identify, who was responsible for these improvements, FIFA, campaign groups, the Emir, or another organisation.
“Disappointingly, we found little or no evidence that football’s governing body had been part of this change, and that these improvements had been driven by three factors, namely the ruler of Qatar, the substantial body of work undertaken by NGOs like Amnesty or the International Labour Organisation and the scrutiny of the emirate and its treatment of foreign workers by the international media.
“This conclusion was validated by both workers and human rights groups we interviewed.”
He added: “One area we found that did require further work was ensuring that the improvements were being fully implemented, as our survey shows, while a clear majority had felt the benefits of the changes, some had not.”
Asked whether they were aware of the reforms, six in 10 (59 percent) said yes. This left four in 10 believing the legislation had not been implemented “effectively” and more needed to be done.
This was confirmed by a second question showing nearly half of those polled believed their treatment had improved, just over 30 percent saying it stayed the same and small minority believing it had got worse.
The report contrasts the scale of the changes in Qatar with China, which will host the Winter Olympics next year. Far from improvements, the report’s author concludes that China has gone backwards in terms of human rights, with a security crackdown in Hong Kong, forced imprisonment and abuse of the Uighur community, and the treatment of Tibet and making threats towards Taiwan.
Mr Oulds continued: “The difference between the improvements in Qatar and the worsening situation in China, is stark.
“In one an existing desire to change has been turbo charged due to the scrutiny of the international community, in the other which prevents many NGOs from openly operating within their border, restricts the internet and blocks journalists from freely reporting, the situation for ordinary people has at best stayed the same or worse, deteriorated.
“This is why we believe improving human and worker rights must be hardwired into all future bids, with sanctions up to and including having the event removed for those who fail to comply. We can no longer rely on vague commitments of an improved human rights legacy to secure these prestigious global events.”
The report lays out a series of recommendations, which FERW believes should be adopted by all sporting and cultural bodies which organise or award major events. They include candidate nations for holding major tournaments to sign up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and implement it.
FERW added that those who fail to implement human rights should be barred from bidding or have tournaments taken away from them if they have been successful.
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