FIFA pressure groups have united to urge sponsors to try to lead calls for the organisation to improve working conditions in Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
New FIFA Now, which wants radical change in football’s governing body, conservatively estimates that 4,000 workers building infrastructure for the tournament will die between now and 2022.
Jaimie Fuller, chairman of the SKINS sportswear company, showed assembled media at a New FIFA Now event footage he obtained while going undercover to expose conditions in Qatar that he described as “horrific”.
And he told Perform: “If FIFA had done their job right, FIFA would have been saying to the Qataris right at the outset ‘we’d love to engage with you in a conversation about holding the World Cup in Qatar, but you need to prove to us that the sorts of abuses that we’re seeing now are not going to happen’.
“You don’t do that after you award them the World Cup, you do it beforehand when you’ve got leverage.
“All we can do is try and publicly humiliate and shame them into making things happen and that’s why we’re targeting the sponsors because the sponsors have a got a role here.
“The sponsors continue to pay money to FIFA and endorse what FIFA are doing in the name of football with their money.
“All this is being done contrary to the sponsors’ own individual beliefs and values and principles. The sponsors shouldn’t be able to look themselves in the mirror in being comfortable about how their money is being spent.”
On the issue of FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s expected re-election, International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow said: “If he said the World Cup will be run in Qatar if the government affords fundamental human and labour rights and works with people to make this possible then he would have success and he might deserve to get re-elected.
“On the current level of corruption, let alone the lack of interest in a state that basically enslaves workers, a state that chooses to develop on the basis of evil, then he doesn’t deserve to be re-elected.
“I think if [Dutch FA chairman Michael] Van Praag was elected we would see change. He’s respected in the Netherlands by both the government and the unions. He’s made his commitments clear.
“There are people out there with decency with a moral code that would try to change the way in which the game is facilitated.”
Declaring his support for Van Praag, Stephen Russell from Fair Play Qatar added: “It [Blatter’s re-election] will reinforce the failures of FIFA as an organisation.
“It’s pretty clear to everybody with any interest in football that the current regime are not fit to be in charge of the global game.
“Michael van Praag has made explicit reference in his campaign manifesto and we’d like to see him take over as we think he genuinely understands the needs of workers in Qatar and the issues that brings up for FIFA.”
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