More than a million people have signed a letter calling for Fifa to finally compensate migrants who suffered appalling human rights abuses while working on the World Cup in Qatar. The letter, which was handed to football’s governing body by the human rights groups Amnesty and Avaaz, also urges it to “stop looking the other way” as its congress meets in Rwanda this week.
In December, Fifa’s president, Gianni Infantino, announced his organisation had made more than $7bn from the 2022 World Cup cycle, but the human rights groups are frustrated that details remain sketchy over whether Fifa’s proposed “legacy fund” will compensate workers who suffered wage theft, illegal recruitment fees and injuries in Qatar and compensate the families of those who died.
Fifa officials in Zurich were also handed specially designed shirts that echo the blue workwear and yellow vests worn by many of the migrant workers who suffered abuses building stadiums and infrastructure.
“Our letter has the backing of more than one million signatures from more than 190 countries,” Bieta Andemariam, Avaaz’s US legal director, said. “The global public has recognised the grave injustice perpetrated against these workers and has come together to demand that Fifa take a fraction of the billions of dollars made off the sweat, blood and lives of hundreds of thousands of these victims – and simply give them and their families what they are owed.”
The letter comes as a proposal from the Norwegian Football Association, calling for Fifa to “assess whether it has fulfilled its responsibility to remedy related to the 2022 World Cup, including an investigation into World Cup-related deaths and injuries”, is due to be discussed on Thursday.
“This meeting offers another opportunity for Fifa to make amends and establish a firm plan and timetable to directly and quickly recompense workers and their families who suffered shocking human rights abuses to deliver a World Cup that was built on their sacrifice,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice.
“While nothing can replace the loss of a loved one, there is no doubt Fifa has the resources to help mend these injustices and provide life-changing support to workers and their families. The time has come for Fifa to properly address its responsibilities rather than merely passing the buck to Qatar.”
Fifa said last November that its legacy fund would focus on education projects and support the creation of a labour excellence hub. – Guardian