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French Football Federation Backs Remedy for Qatar’s Migrants

Creation of a FIFA Compensation Fund Can’t Wait Any Longer

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, left, speaks with French Football Federation President Noel Le Graet before the start of the 69th FIFA congress in Paris, June 5, 2019. © 2019 AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File

The French Football Federation (FFF) finally broke its silence in the leadup to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Earlier this week, the FFF’s vice president stated at a conference organized at the FFF headquarter that the FFF was working with a dozen other federations on the creation of “a compensation fund for all those who have been victims of work accidents during the construction of the World Cup”. This announcement comes after a press release mentioning this possibility, issued by the FFF in response to a September 23 letter from Amnesty International France to the French football team.

Human rights groups and victims' associations have been calling for months on FIFA and Qatar authorities to set up a compensation fund for migrant workers and their families who suffered serious harms during preparations of the tournament. Under pressure from nongovernmental and international organizations, not FIFA, the Qatari authorities have initiated some reforms, but these are insufficient and inadequate, and migrant workers continue to suffer serious abuses, including wage theft, injuries, and unexplained deaths.

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, unions, and fans groups have demanded FIFA set aside at least $440 million, equivalent to the prize money provided to 2022 World Cup teams.

FIFA said in June that it was studying compensation mechanisms and would respond to the groups calling for this fund within weeks. Their response is still pending.

With this statement, the FFF joins the German National Football Federation, England, Brazil, Belgium and the Netherlands who have all recently publicly supported our call. The FFF also adopt a Human Rights Policy to protect athletes from abuse. As France will be hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2023 and the Olympic Games in 2024, it is critical that sports associations, athletes, companies, and all stakeholders set an example by putting respect for fundamental rights at the heart of these events.

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