The 'Hypocrisy World Cup'
18 May 2015
International workers’ unions have today joined forces with FIFA pressure groups to demand that FIFA sponsors accept their corporate responsibility and challenge human rights abuses at World Cup infrastructure construction sites in Qatar.
The initiative, co-ordinated by sports compression wear company SKINS, was announced to international media in London today where evidence of squalid living conditions for migrant workers employed in Qatar under the notorious kafala system was presented and FIFA’s rejection of any responsibility was condemned.
SKINS Chairman, Jaimie Fuller announced that he had personally written to eight FIFA sponsors accusing them individually of effectively; ‘contravening their own values and principles’ by contributing significant sums of money to FIFA and thereby providing ‘implicit support’ for working practices and conditions in Qatar.
In the letter, Mr Fuller tells each company’s CEO that migrant workers on World Cup infrastructure related sites are; “denied basic human rights as well as the fundamental humanity, morality and decency that you and I, and the people we employ, are entitled to take for granted.”
Each organisation is invited to support the #NewFIFANow call for an independent FIFA reform commission to; ‘review, develop and implement an overhaul of FIFA’s statutes, committee structure and way of doing business.’
Fuller, whose company recently declared itself the first “Official Non-Sponsor” of FIFA, recently travelled to Qatar and was smuggled into several workers’ labour camps to see evidence first hand.
Fuller said: “The kafala problem is just the tip of the FIFA iceberg but it graphically shows their negligence and their level of self-denial when it comes to confronting international football’s major issues.
“FIFA refuses to accept any responsibility for the Qatari issue and remains riddled with allegations of corruption, mismanagement and poor decision making - all of which it refuses to confront to the satisfaction of the international community.
“So far, FIFA’s sponsors have restricted themselves to a series of rhetorical statements aimed at defending an indefensible association.”
“In reality, the invitation to join with #NewFIFANow represents an opportunity for FIFA’s sponsors because FIFA’s position is now alarmingly similar to the IOC’s in 1999 after the Salt Lake City scandal. On that occasion, it was the IOC’s sponsors who enforced wholesale reform and we believe the time is right for FIFA’s sponsors and partners to adopt a similar strategy.”
The announcement included the presentation of footage, taken by Fuller, of the kafala camp conditions in Qatar and a film reflecting the hypocrisy between sponsor statements on corporate responsibility and their association with FIFA.
The event was supported by International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary, Sharan Burrow and Stephen Russell of the UK Trade Union Congress-backed group Playfair Qatar. Bi-partisan support was confirmed by the attendance of Conservative UK MP Damian Collins, who was Chairman of the #NewFIFANow panel at its inaugural meeting in Brussels in January.
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation said: “Qatar is a slave state. The discrimination, the racism, the denial of rights for 1.4 million migrant workers adds up to apartheid and a model of employment that is simply slavery. There is a conspiracy of silence by governments and major sporting and cultural institutions that allow it to continue. The world must not be duped by Qatar’s empty promises of reform.”
Stephen Russell, from Playfair Qatar, said: “The Football Supporters’ Federation is fully behind us and fans everywhere will be shocked to learn how workers in Qatar are treated. The World Cup is supposed to be a celebration of all that is good in sport. However, as things stand, more than 62 workers will die for each game played during the 2022 tournament.
“FIFA and its sponsors cannot wash their hands over what is happening. They have a moral responsibility to ensure that Qatar ends these human rights abuses now. FIFA will do nothing for its reputation and that of football if it refuses to act.”
Damian Collins MP said: “Since our conference in Brussels, we have had tremendous support from people around the world who see us speaking out on behalf of fans in every corner. Supporters want change at FIFA and this is the latest step in our aim of achieving that.
“We have a strong message to send to FIFA’s sponsors and they should be in no doubt that the world wants reform for football’s governing body.”