The English Football Association (FA) said on Wednesday families of migrant workers in Qatar who were injured or killed while constructing the infrastructure for this year’s World Cup should be compensated.
Qatar has faced intense criticism from human rights groups over its treatment of migrant workers, who along with other foreigners comprehend the bulk of the country’s population.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and FairSquare said on Tuesday FIFA’s partners and World Cup sponsors must urge world football’s governing body and the Qatari government to compensate migrant workers.
In May, Amnesty and other rights groups had called on FIFA to set aside $440 million for compensation for human rights abuses.
“We continue to push for the principle of compensation for the families of migrant workers who have lost their lives or have been injured in construction projects,” FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said in a statement.
“Again, we are pushing FIFA for an update on the compensation fund which has been consistently referenced as a safety net where workers and their families have been unable to secure compensation from the construction companies.”
The government of Qatar has said that its labor system is still a work in progress, but denied a 2021 Amnesty report that thousands of migrant workers were still being exploited.
Bullingham said the FA was also lobbying FIFA for an update on new labor protection laws in the Gulf state and the introduction of a center to provide advice and help for migrant workers.
“It is clear that Qatar has brought in progressive legislation in the last few years to give workers rights, so this concept will help this legislation to take effect,” Bullingham said.
In a separate briefing, Bullingham said that he had “found a desire for change” from authorities in regards to workers’ rights.
“That’s not every single person you meet but I think the authorities have been really sincere about the change they have brought about,” he added.
“When they talk through it, they are quite proud of what they have done in a short space of time. As I said, it is from a low base but if you speak to some of the NGOs on the ground, they now say that their construction sites would have the same health and safety regimes as Western sites.”
England captain Harry Kane and captains of seven other European nations who have qualified for the World Cup will wear an anti-discrimination armband during the tournament in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
“As captains we may all be competing against each other on the pitch, but we stand together against all forms of discrimination,” Kane said.
“This is even more relevant at a time when division is common in society. Wearing the armband together on behalf of our teams will send a clear message when the world is watching.”
The World Cup begins on Nov. 20 and runs through to Dec. 18.