The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in Qatar, calling on Qatar and FIFA to extend compensation for families of workers who suffered while building infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.
“MEPs deplore the deaths of thousands of migrant workers, particularly in the construction sector, who were helping the country prepare for the tournament, and all those injured,” Parliament said in a statement. She added that while she welcomes the Qatari government’s compensation of families through the so-called Workers’ Assistance and Insurance Fund, she regrets that not all families have access to the fund.
MEPs are urging the Qatari government to “engage with all those affected since work started related to the FIFA World Cup, including workers deaths and other human rights abuses.”
Legislators highlighted FIFA’s role, urged world football’s governing body to engage in a “major rehabilitation program” for working-class families and accused the federation of suffering from “rampant, systemic and entrenched” corruption. “The organization has seriously damaged the image and integrity of global football,” the resolution added.
At the same time, the text paid tribute to Qatar’s recent labor policy reforms, saying the parliament “supports Qatar’s recent efforts to improve workers’ conditions and rights, which the international community has raised, but calls for the full implementation of the adopted reforms.”
Since winning the tournament in 2010, Qatar has faced criticism. Allegations of bribery and corruption have dogged the bid process, and activists have criticized the country’s human rights record and the treatment of migrant workers. Politician and football associations ahead of the World Cup.
The adopted resolution also criticizes Qatar’s treatment of the LGBTQ+ community and women.
Antonius Manders, a Dutch Conservative MEP, organized an initiative for lawmakers to wear OneLove armbands during the debate. Soccer players who wear these armbands during the World Cup risk “sporting sanctions” from FIFA in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
Manders told POLITICO that he wanted to show that “we are against all forms of discrimination and against FIFA’s human rights abuses in Qatar”. But he added he was “disappointed” that MPs remained reluctant to stand up and show it. “You see the power of FIFA’s long arm,” he said.
There was a broad majority in favor of the resolution and few votes against, particularly from the fringes, parliament officials told POLITICO.
Before the vote, there had been some hesitation, particularly within the S&D and EPP, Socialist lawmaker and parliamentary vice-president Eva Kaili argued on Wednesday that Qatar is a “pioneer on labor rights” but that some still “discriminate against” it.
But Spanish S&D MP Pedro Marques called Thursday’s resolution “an important political message on Qatar,” and others like Jan-Christoph Oetjen reiterated this in a written statement, adding that the World Cup should never have been held in Qatar.