How can FIFA, FAs channel World Cup anger into meaningful change for migrant workers in Qatar?

Outrage can be a useful tool. It can clarify, it can focus, it can sensitize and it can spur action. It’s less useful when it does a better job of making the outraged feel good than dealing with what made them outraged in the first place.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (US)

Many are outraged by the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. It was awarded in 2010 under dubious circumstances at best and corrupt at worst (read the Garcia report and make up your own mind) by a 24-strong FIFA Executive Council (of those 24, two were prevented from voting because they). who are under investigation for corruption; 14 were later banned, formally charged, indicted or convicted for corruption or ethical violations). And, of course, it was given to a country that has done very poorly when it comes to the treatment of migrant workers, be it on pay, working conditions and safety, and basic workers’ rights.

Those are reasons to be outraged. The question is, with the tournament less than 10 days away, how do you channel the outrage into something productive?

And with that in mind, the statement made this week by the football associations of Belgium, Denmark, England, Germany, Holland, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales goes some way towards breaking through the noise and standing up to focus on what could be useful and noticeable long-term change. Because the simple truth is that in just over five weeks the World Cup will be over, the circus will be moving from town and few people other than those directly affected will spend much time contemplating a corrupt FIFA Executive Board in 2010 or the Plight of migrant workers in Doha. (Or, by the way, many of the other countries in the Gulf, where conditions are often worse).

If it’s important to us, what can we do about it?

We’re not going to go back to 2010 and give the World Cup to someone else. That’s about as realistic as expecting qualified teams to boycott the tournament at this point. It won’t happen, and more importantly, it won’t do anything for those affected.

What can happened – and what FIFA should be working towards – the statement demanded. Reminding the Government of Qatar that they and FIFA have given assurances regarding the “safety and inclusion” of all fans traveling to the World Cup, including LGBTQ+ supporters. And continue to push for “concrete answers” to address the plight of migrant workers, particularly a compensation fund for those killed or injured and a migrant workers’ center where local lawyers can ensure their rights are not violated.

Of course, one could get very performative about this, like Denmark’s kit maker Hummel, which has “toned down” the branding on World Cup kits (and issued a press release to make sure everyone knows) in protest at the treatment of migrant workers. .

Or you could educate yourself – what these countries have been doing. They acknowledged that Qatar has started reforming its labor system since 2017 and that there have been “tangible improvements” (not me saying that, that’s Amnesty International). Qatar worked with unions like the International Labor Organization to pass better labor standards, introduced labor tribunals and ratified human rights treaties.

But as Amnesty International writes, abuse is still widespread and there is still a long way to go. Hence the practical proposal of a fully funded center where workers can report abuses and irregularities, learn about their rights and get legal advice. Crucially, the center must endure and continue to look for workers once the eyes of the world have turned away.

Then there is the equalization fund. If a worker dies in a developed country (or indeed a number of developing countries) and it is work-related, his family will receive compensation. If an employee is maimed or injured at work, they receive compensation. It’s not particularly expensive or difficult to implement. It’s just a matter of will to make it happen.

FIFA has promised to push Qatar forward with these changes. The countries that made the declaration hold them accountable, and let’s hope they continue to do so. It doesn’t take a genius to know that FIFA will have very little impact in this area after the World Cup, so it’s crucial that this happens now.

Are these small steps? Yes. But without going back to 2010 and introducing, for example, the kind of human rights requirements that FIFA under different leadership introduced in 2019, these are the most sensible goals we can hope for in the short term.

are they enough no But sometimes perfect is the enemy of good. And sometimes you have to act fast and get what you can. Channel that outrage while it’s there, and do it in a meaningful way. With news cycles and attention spans being what they are, the sad reality is that Christmas will come, few will care, everyone will move on and the migrant workers will still be around. How can FIFA, FAs channel World Cup anger into meaningful change for migrant workers in Qatar?

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