sets up worker welfare body for Qatar World Cup
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[April 22, 2016]
DOHA (Reuters) - The head of
soccer's world governing body FIFA sought on Friday to ease fears of
human rights abuses in construction of stadiums for the 2022 World Cup
in Qatar, announcing plans for a special group to monitor working
Gianni Infantino said Qatar, the tournament's first Arab host,
supported the initiative. Efforts to ensure better welfare for
workers were, he added, going in the right direction.
In a statement, Infantino said the FIFA-led monitoring group would
be independent and include civil society representatives and
"relevant FIFA stakeholders" to oversee all competitions.
"With regards to the composition, it will be defined in the coming
days and we want to put it in place very, very soon," he told
reporters in Doha after a two-day visit to the Gulf Arab state.
"We have to make sure that what we say will be delivered and that we
have high profile persons," he added.
Amnesty International reported on abuses in Qatar's preparations for
the World Cup in a wide-ranging report three weeks ago based on the
accounts of 132 workers at the sites.
It found construction workers from Nepal and India had been charged
recruitment fees and housed in squalid conditions.
The head of Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, Hassan
al-Thawadi, has said Doha was working to reduce abuses he described
as occurring on construction sites all over the world.
Infantino faces pressure from human rights groups to press for
reform of labor laws in Qatar including its "kafala" sponsorship
system, whereby employers effectively control a worker's freedom to
leave the country.
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Infantino said he had told Qatari Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser
al-Thani measures taken by Qatari authorities to ensure fair working
conditions were going in the right direction.
"However, I made it very clear that it is essential for the Qatari
authorities to ensure that the country complies to international
standards on the treatment of workforce and to continue at full pace
with the implementation of the promised measures," Infantino's
He said the hosting of the World Cup was an opportunity to set a
benchmark for fair conditions for all workers in Qatar.
"FIFA and I will take the Qatari authorities at their word and I
look forward to the concrete actions which will be the real
testament of will," Infantino said.
(Reporting by Reuters Television, Writing by Sylvia Westall; editing
by Ralph Boulton)
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