Slave labour in FIFA’s Murky Fiefdom – 2nd April, 2016

Slave labour in FIFA’s Murky Fiefdom.

images (1)Followers of my blog will know that I have oft-times railed against the corruption in FIFA – long before it was ‘fashionable’ to do so. For several years now I have been raging  against Blatter and his obscenely corrupt henchmen, including the now-suspended head of EUFA, the slippery Platini.

I called for their heads on a block while most people just shook their heads in wonder and accepted the status quo. They assumed that the FIFA elite were simply too powerful to be brought to brook.

Thank God they were wrong – and thank God for the FBI – never have they been so welcome in the cause of uncovering massive international corruption.

It is easy to be wise ‘after the event’ – but I was there ‘before the event’ and I am proud of the stand I took.

But we are a long way from being free of this terrible organisation and its sweeping powers that continue to control world football. Never was there more a case in point than the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Only a few months ago, the disgraced president Blatter let it slip that the awarding of the venue for 2022 was agreed before the vote – to the USA!

But they hadn’t reckoned on Monsieur Platini – the disgraced and now suspended president of UEFA – being ‘persuaded’ at the last moment on the virtues of taking the world’s greatest sporting tournament to Qatar. (And also taking enough of his mates with him to swing the vote.)

Why did Platini move heaven and earth to award the world cup to Qatar?

workers_qatarIn November 2010, Platini met Bin Hammam – the son of the Emir of Qatar and the country’s prime minister – for breakfast. This was shortly before the Platini and Bin Hamman met Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, for lunch at the Elysée Palace.

These meetings were one month before the World Cup vote in which the world cup venues for the 2018 and 2022 competitions would be decided.

We now know from leaked documents that Bin Hamman personally lobbied Mr Platini to support the Emirate’s bid. We also know that Bin Hamman:-

  • Discussed trade deals with many of the officials and countries who were eligible to vote in the decision in 2010, including a gas deal in Thailand.
  • Offered car dealerships to FIFA members.
  • Discussed internships and jobs for family members of some FIFA members.
  • Distributed £3 million in bribes to FIFA delegates.

In December 2010, Platini voted for Qatar for the 2022 World cup venue, even though he later admitted it would be too hot there in the summer and that the competition should be moved to the winter, which will create untold fixture confusion and misery for all the European clubs. And let’s not forget he is still he was their UEAFA President, elected to look after European football clubs’ interests.

In 2011, Platini’s son, Laurent, started working for Qatar Sports Investments, an arm of the Qatari government and owners of Paris Saint-Germain. He later became the chief executive of Burrda, a Qatari-owned sports company.

Platini denied there was any connection between his son’s employment by an ‘arm’ of the Qatar government and his decision to vote for Qatar.

But he did vote for Qatar, something which was totally contrary to the best interests of every European Football team, and his son landed himself a plum job working for Qatar. I wonder what else was promised.

When a few newspapers started to suggest that the Qatar job for Laurent was a bribe, poor little Platini Jr was outraged.

“To think for a single second that my father can be bought on the pretext that I work for the Qataris is just unbelievable,” he remonstrated. “People who know us know that we’re people of integrity, both of us.”

Erm.. integrity?… then please explain why dear daddy  has been suspended for 6 years from any involvement in football?

So in 2022, we will have undemocratic Qatar, ruled with an iron fist by the Qatari royals,  hosting the World Cup.

Why not? Well, take your pick from the following:

  • Qatar is a country with zero footballing pedigree.
  • Qatar is a country where human rights abuses are perpetrated on a massive scale.
  • Qatar is a country where the temperatures hover at over 50 degrees centigrade during the summer – when the tournament is scheduled to be held.
  • Qatar is a country with only one, as yet sub-standard  football stadium, but with a plan to import wholesale slave labour from the Indian sub-continent at a cost of astronomical billions to build the required venues.

Just think what good that money might have done if it was used to better the lives of the millions of poor in that self-same sub-continent. And who will use all these stadia after the tournament is over? What a colossal waste of money….It’s obscene.

To hold a World Cup in Doha – one of the hottest places on earth – in the middle of the summer is the most unbelievable piece of arrant nonsense ever foisted on the world of sport. There cannot be a single person who doesn’t know that Qatar was awarded the World Cup on the back of massive kickbacks by this tiny, but obscenely wealthy oil kingdom.

Slave Labour

NYC149085Worst of all is the appalling, slave-like treatment of third world labourers. Despite denials,  an average of two construction workers are killed every day on the stadium construction sites across Qatar.

The human rights abuses have been known for several years. The desperate plights and despicable treatment of  imported labour have been raised many times by journalists over the years.

A BBC reporter and film crew were even held in jail for 2 nights without food in May last year for trying to talk to labourers. Eight white cars surrounded their vehicle when they were on their way to interview some Nepalese labourers. 

They were directed onto a side road at speed and were frisked in the street by a dozen security officers. They took away all their equipment and hard drives and drove them to jail. The head security official threatened them with another four days in prison – to teach them a lesson.

imagesThen there were the heart-wrenching stories of workers from Nepal not being allowed to return home to take care of their families decimated in the May 2015 earthquake.

And what was the result of all the uproar over labour abuse?

Zero.

The Qatari government promised to look into it and FIFA made a few noises – but absolutely nothing was done. Qatar didn’t care, FIFA was far too busy sorting away illegal money and defending themselves from accusations of corruption, and the world’s governments looked the other way. After all, Qatar was an ally.

So the abuses went on and on.

Then a couple of days ago Amnesty International released a damning report on the abuses in Qatar. Here is a summary of the ongoing abuses:

  • Workers at Khalifa International Stadium are forced to live in squalid accommodation, pay huge recruitment fees and have had wages withheld and passports confiscated.
  • Labour supply companies used the threat of penalties to exact work from migrants such as withholding pay, handing workers over to the police or stopping them from leaving Qatar. This amounted to forced labour under international law, Amnesty reported.
  • Workers are required to pay fees of up to $4,300 to recruiters in their home country to get a job in Qatar.
  • Workers are deceived over the type of work and the pay on offer, which is sometimes half as much as they were promised.
  • Workers are threatened for complaining about their conditions.
  • Some of the Nepali workers told Amnesty they were not allowed to visit their families after the earthquake last April that killed thousands and left millions displaced
  • One metalworker from India who worked on the Khalifa stadium refurbishment told Amnesty he was threatened by his employer when he complained about not being paid for several months. “He just shouted abuse at me and said that if I complained again I’d never leave the country.” 
  • Another metalworker from Nepal said his life was “like a prison”.
  • Amnesty said every single migrant it had interviewed had reported abuses of one kind or another

What Has the Qatari government said?

The Secretary General for Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is responsible for delivering stadiums and infrastructure for the games, said that addressing the issue of workers’ welfare was a “long journey”.

“We cannot resolve everything overnight,” he said.

Sorry…. But why not?

After all, Qatar isn’t a democracy – you can do anything you like, when you like and how you like, (like jailing BBC journalists), but… methinks… you don’t like.

What about FIFA?

downloadFIFA has completely failed to stop the tournament being built on the back of human rights abuses.

In response, the governing body of world football said that measures had been taken that had already improved the situation for migrant workers.

Oh yes? Then why does Amnesty have harsh words for FIFA, accusing it of “indifference” to the abuse of migrant workers, which is a “stain on the conscience of world football”. Amnesty has called on big World Cup sponsors such as Adidas,

Amnesty has called on big World Cup sponsors such as Adidas, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s to put pressure on FIFA to tackle the issue.

“It is time for football’s leaders to speak out or be tainted by association.”

2010_Bahrain_MigrantWorkersAmnesty wants FIFA to get Qatar to publish a comprehensive reform plan before construction on World Cup projects peaks in 2017.

FIFA released a statement last Thursday saying that since 2011 it had been meeting key groups, including Amnesty International, to discuss:

“consistent and sustained implementation of fair working conditions on world cup sites.”

“This is an ongoing process. Challenges remain, but FIFA is confident that the structures and processes set-up so far by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is the entity responsible for the delivery of FIFA World Cup infrastructure, provide a good basis to monitor labour rights of migrant workers.”

FIFA’s head of Sustainability said measures taken by the committee “have already improved the situation for migrant workers”.

Oh yeah, Mister Sustainability… Why don’t you go and ask the workers if their situation has improved, or is that beneath your Excellency of Sustainability?

(Wasn’t there a Head of Sustainability in the BBC TV satire ‘2012’?)

Just give me one good reason why we should believe anything that comes out of the headquarters of FIFA?

The best thing that could happen to world football and the wretchedly abused workers in Qatar is for FIFA to be disbanded and closed down for good.

A brand new, completely independent, totally transparent  committee should then be established to run world football in its place.

The sooner the better….

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