‘Completely unacceptable’: Qatar World Cup organizers admit workers were exploited

World Cup organizers in Qatar have admitted workers were exploited while under contract for FIFA preparation tournaments in the Gulf state.

The acknowledgment of the shortcomings came after an investigation by Amnesty International found that security guards were forced to work in conditions described as “forced labour” by exceeding the maximum 60-hour working week and having no day off for months or even years.

Qatar has not provided any details of abuse involving contractors working on the Club World Cup and Arab Cup in 2021.

“Three companies were found to be non-compliant in a number of areas,” Qatar World Cup organizers said in a statement. “These breaches were completely unacceptable and led to the application of a series of measures, including placing contractors on a watchlist or blacklist to prevent them from working on future projects – including the FIFA World Cup. FIFA World – before reporting said contractors to the Department of Labor for further investigation and punitive action.”

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Exploitation of workers continues in Qatar despite World Cup organizers saying it had introduced measures since 2014 – four years after FIFA granted it hosting rights – to protect health and Security.

“Many of the security guards we spoke to knew their employers were breaking the law, but felt powerless to challenge them,” said Stephen Cockburn of Amnesty International. “Physically and emotionally exhausted, workers continued to report to work under threat of financial penalties – or worse, contract termination or expulsion.

“Despite the progress Qatar has made in recent years, our research suggests that abuses in the private security sector – which will be in increasing demand during the World Cup – remain systematic and structural.”

The World Cup draw took place in Doha last week ahead of Nov. 21-Dec. 18 tournament.

“FIFA must be focused on doing more to prevent abuse in the inherently perilous private security industry, or see the tournament further marred by abuse,” Cockburn said. “More broadly, FIFA must also use its influence to pressure Qatar to implement its reforms and enforce its laws.”