A coalition of human rights groups, football fans, players and trade unions has urged FIFA president Gianni Infantino to confirm that any country chosen to share World Cup 2022 games with Qatar will meet world football’s with the organization’s new human rights standards . The possible expansion of the next World Cup from 32 to 48 teams is top of the agenda at a meeting of the FIFA Council in Miami on Friday, which would mean Qatar having to share the World Cup with other nations in the Middle East such as Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia or UAE .
Experts on workers’ rights in the region have been highly critical of the controversial decision to award the World Cup to Qatar and are now equally concerned about the prospect of one or more countries in the region having to build stadiums and upgrade infrastructure in a hurry. And those concerns have now been sent to Infantino in an open letter signed by Amnesty International, Football Supporters Europe, Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, International Trade Union Congress, Transparency International, UNI Global Union and the World Players Association.
The letter points out that an enlarged World Cup would require additional hosts and calls on Infantino to guarantee those hosts would meet the human rights, transparency and sustainability criteria FIFA introduced in 2017. It also says additional hosts in the Gulf region raises fresh human rights risks related to an exploitative labour systems that make migrant workers vulnerable to abuse; discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation and religion; restrictions on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression, and threats to human rights defenders.
There are clear risks associated with adding new hosts for the 2022 World Cup, not least the potential widespread exploitation of migrant workers providing construction and other services for the World Cup that could cast a major shadow over the world’s biggest sporting event. The organisations are calling on FIFA to confirm that any country putting itself forward will be assessed for human rights risks, and be expected to provide credible plans to prevent labour rights abuse, discrimination and restrictions on freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly in connection to the tournament.