The hot air committee

Fifa’s Sub-Committee on Human Rights and Social Responsibility is the latest illustration of how football has turned its back on human rights and migrant workers in Qatar.

By Sam Kunti

In March, at the last Fifa Congress in Kigali, Rwanda, Michael Llamas, the president of the Gibraltar FA, addressed the floor via a pre-recorded video message in his capacity as chairman of Fifa’s Sub-Committee on Human Rights and Social Responsibility. Referring to a visit of the sub-committee to Qatar in 2022, he said, parroting Qatari authorities’ talking points, that, “We learned about the programmes designed to improve the situation for workers involved in the construction of infrastructure and delivery of services for the World Cup […] The significant legislative reform process related to workers’ rights in Qatar that underpins these results has been positively received by the working group and constitutes real structural reform which we believe deserves to be acknowledged as positive and meaningful progress and a true legacy of hosting the Fifa World Cup in Qatar and an example of the region as a whole.”

He fronted Fifa’s response to the proposal of the Norwegian FA (NFF) and its president Lise Klaveness to provide remedies to World Cup workers in Qatar. In the lead-up to the tournament, human rights groups and NGOs repeatedly called on Fifa and Qatar to establish a compensation fund for migrant workers who had suffered labour abuses or had paid the ultimate price. FIFA’s own Human Rights Policy affirms that Fifa should remedy human rights abuses to which it has contributed.

Llamas noted that “there are still some mixed views on whether sufficient progress has been achieved in Qatar as a result of the World Cup. There are also different opinions...

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