The head of the UN labor agency demanded on Sunday that FIFA’s president take on a larger role in scrutinizing potential hosts of future World Cups, following intense criticism of the Qatar World Cup. labor rights agreement
Before meeting with Gianni Infantino, ILO director general Gilbert Houngbo told AFP that Qatar has made significant progress but still needs to do more for its migrant laborers because it has been the victim of “double standards.” Houngbo stated in an interview that the ILO is looking for a position that will carry out “due diligence” on potential candidate nations.
After years of criticism of Qatari labor rights, FIFA has been under more pressure, with issues like unpaid wages and working in the scorching summer heat of the Gulf state among them. “FIFA is very determined to ensure that for future World Cups, or the next attribution, the social question, the question of respect for worker standards, are critical questions in the decision,” Houngbo stated. Respect for human rights must include “rights linked to work and especially health and safety at work,” according to the former prime minister of Togo.
Following the meeting, FIFA, which already collaborates with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that discussions regarding a memorandum of understanding with the ILO were not yet complete. Infantino said in a statement, “We have engaged with the ILO for a number of years and we want to make sure our fruitful cooperation will continue in the future.”
Houngbo stated that he was “reasonably optimistic” about reaching a labor rights agreement with FIFA.
“The ILO would be available to carry out a kind of due diligence of all the candidate countries” for FIFA. “It cannot be the only element in taking a decision.”
“For the Olympic Games and other sports,” he stated, “the same rules should apply.”
The United States, Canada, and Mexico will host the 2026 World Cup. We don’t have a problem in theory. But that doesn’t stop us from being watchful,” Houngbo said. Since 2018, the ILO has had a temporary office in Doha. It helps the Qatari government with its reforms and monitors the conditions of migrant workers, who make up nearly 90% of the country’s 2.9 million people. Houngbo has also talked to Qatar about making the office a permanent base. This is the first office in the Gulf region, where labor rights are criticized by almost all countries.
“Double standards” were exhibited in many of the attacks on Qatar, according to the ILO chief.
“Despite the fact that Qatar has done more in this area than other nations, I have heard harsh criticism of Qatar. ” Houngbo said that Qatar deserved praise for removing its punitive “Kafala” labor system, which prevented workers from changing jobs or leaving the country without permission, establishing a minimum wage, and limiting the number of hours workers can work in heat since international unions filed an official complaint with the ILO in 2014.
According to the government, since 2018, it has spent more than $350 million on compensation for stolen and unpaid wages. The government has expressed its dismay at the so-called “racist” attacks.
The head of the ILO stated, “This shows the engagement of the government and the size of the problem.”
A “small number” of businesses “continue to have illegal practices, and that is where we have to continue to work,” according to the statement. To put an end to the contentious debates regarding the number of workers killed in accidents at work, the ILO is also urging Qatar to improve its data collection. Between 2014 and 2020, 414 people died in accidents, according to the government. “Thousands” of people have died, rights groups claim.
Houngbo stated, “I think the public needs to know the truth, and occasionally the sincere truth is that there is no credible information.” World News Spot