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Uefa welcomes Fifa pledge to tackle Qatar labour issues

World Cup Qatar Reuters/Marko Djurica
Migrant workers watch the first World Cup game between Qatar and Ecuador in Doha on Sunday
  • Legacy fund from Qatar 2022 to help ‘vulnerable people’
  • Fifa hopes spotlight will turn from criticisms to action on the pitch

A group of 11 European football associations welcomed promises from Fifa of support for migrant labourers in Qatar and the creation of a legacy fund from 2022 World Cup proceeds.

The Uefa Working Group on Human and Labour Rights, made up of representatives from the football associations of Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales, met world football’s governing body on Sunday.

It said Fifa had confirmed support for a permanent International Labour Organisation (ILO) office in Doha that would support and advise migrant workers.

“This fulfils the request we made some time ago for a migrant worker support centre,” Uefa said.

“In addition, we welcome Fifa’s commitment to work with the relevant authorities to ensure that all migrant workers will receive financial compensation in cases where they have not been paid in time or have been injured in any work-related accident.”

The football associations said they had been advised that more than $350 million had been paid out in compensation to workers in Qatar since 2018, in cases mainly dealing with late and non-payment of wages. Qatar has denied accusations of abuse of workers.

The Uefa group also welcomed Fifa plans to use the legacy fund to help “some of the most vulnerable people in the world and, in particular, to assist with education for girls and young women.”

Profits from past World Cups have been put into legacy funds for the host nation to use for the development of the game.

The Uefa group said Fifa had also promised to establish a “labour excellence hub” using the experience gained from Qatar to “protect and benefit workers around the world”.

The Uefa group plans to return to Qatar next year to check on these initiatives.

Qatar hopes the event will cement it as a global player, and flight bookings to the country are indeed booming.

For the first time, a direct commercial flight from Tel Aviv to Doha landed in Qatar despite the absence of formal bilateral ties, in a deal brokered by Fifa.

Many fans are basing themselves in Dubai and using some 54 daily shuttle flights to Doha, due to limited accommodation in the tournament’s smallest ever host.