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The FIFA Syndrome

The arrest of senior FIFA executives on a raft of fraud and corruption charges has been front-page news in recent days. But the criminal charges do not address another egregious injustice: the treatment of the migrant workers in Qatar who are building the stadiums for the 2022 FIFA Football World Cup.

LONDON – The arrest of FIFA executives on a raft of fraud and corruption charges has been front-page news in recent days. But the charges brought by the Swiss and American authorities focus on bribery and embezzlement, and do not address another egregious injustice: the treatment of the migrant workers in Qatar who are building the stadiums for the 2022 FIFA Football World Cup.

Amnesty International recently released a report on the abysmal conditions in Qatar. The workers are subject to unsafe construction sites, exploitative recruitment agencies, and little recourse to formal justice. Recently, Nepal’s labor minister publicly spoke out about the government of Qatar not allowing his country’s migrant workers to return home to mourn relatives who died in the April 2015 earthquake.

As Amnesty International notes, the responsibility lies primarily with the Qatari authorities. But FIFA had – and still has – a responsibility to act. There have also been calls for sponsors, including McDonalds, Visa, Coca-Cola, Adidas, Budweiser, Gazprom, KIA, and Hyundai, to place pressure on FIFA and Qatar to improve working conditions.

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