Qatar’s commitment to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of the 27,000 workers building the FIFA World Cup 2022™ stadiums and other tournament infrastructure was discussed as part of a high-profile human rights conference in Berlin, organised by the global trade union Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI).
Participating in a panel titled ‘Shifts and Goals: The Changing Global Sports Governance’, Mahmoud Qutub, Executive Director of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) Workers’ Welfare Department, spoke alongside Federico Addiechi, FIFA’s Head of Sustainability & Diversity, about the key initiatives led by his team, including robust auditing, inspection, compliance and enforcement of standards, the reimbursement of illegal recruitment fees, improvements in workers’ accommodation, as well as grievance mechanisms.
“Since 2016 we have worked closely with BWI on enhancing the work we have carried out in protecting our workers. We have made significant progress, but there is still a great deal of work to do. With 27,000 workers, we are not the biggest player in Qatar’s construction industry. However, we have a big voice and we use it well. We are already living the legacy of the World Cup,” said Qutub.
With three years to go until Qatar 2022™ kicks off, Addiechi shared his thoughts about the tournament’s potential to drive positive change. Fielding questions on previous and future editions of the FIFA World Cup, Addiechi explained how FIFA’s role in addressing the issue of human rights has evolved.
“There is real value to be brought by BWI and similar stakeholders in relation to mega-sporting events. The case of Qatar is a positive example because we have all witnessed the evolution. We have not seen a human rights commitment like this before on a World Cup programme,” added Addiechi.
Ambet Yuson, BWI General Secretary, recognised the SC’s efforts, especially the introduction of Workers’ Welfare Forums to address grievances.
He said: “In the past few years our relationship with Qatar and FIFA has been transformed. The conversation has moved forward and the collaboration continues.”