FIFA hosts a conference in Qatar to address human rights issues ahead of next year’s World Cup
FIFA president Gianni Infantino and head of the tournament’s organising body Hassan Al Thawadi, as well as members of the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and political leaders from parliaments across Europe, are attending a meeting to discuss Qatar’s human rights record.
FIFA conducted a virtual conference with government institutions and rights organisations on Tuesday (December 14) to address human rights in Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup, according to a statement from the sport’s governing body.
Members of the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and political leaders from parliaments across Europe attended the conference, which included FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Hassan Al Thawadi, the president of the tournament’s organising committee. Representatives from the European Commission, the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), the United Nations, and UNESCO, among others, were there.
The forum, according to FIFA, provided an opportunity for stakeholders to address questions and concerns about a variety of crucial issues, such as worker welfare and LGBTQIA rights. “We have been dedicated from the beginning to ensure that a legacy is provided before the tournament and that this legacy lasts beyond the tournament, specifically on labour reform but also on other matters,” Al Thawadi added.
The Qatar government has previously stated that its labour system is still under development, although it has refuted claims made in an Amnesty International study that thousands of foreign workers are being exploited. Reality Check 2021, a 48-page report by Amnesty International, found that abuses like withholding salaries and charging workers to change employment were still prevalent.
Qatari laws, according to Human Rights Watch, continue to discriminate against women and lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. “Our main concern here in Qatar is LGBTQIA rights, particularly the law that criminalises homosexuality,” said Piara Powar, Executive Director of the Fare network, a non-profit dedicated to ending prejudice in European football.
“We know that many LGBTQIA persons are afraid of what may happen if they come. Respect for local culture should not exclude reaching out to LGBTQIA groups to ensure their safety.”