Migrant workers building Khalifa International Stadium in Doha for the 2022 World Cup have suffered systematic abuses, in some cases forced labour, Amnesty International reveals in a new report published today.
The report, “The ugly side of the beautiful game: Labour exploitation on a Qatar 2022 World Cup venue”, blasts FIFA’s shocking indifference to appalling treatment of migrant workers. The number of people working on World Cup sites is set to surge almost ten-fold to around 36,000 in the next two years.
“The abuse of migrant workers is a stain on the conscience of world football. For players and fans, a World Cup stadium is a place of dreams. For some of the workers who spoke to us, it can feel like a living nightmare,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty.
“Despite five years of promises, FIFA has failed almost completely to stop the World Cup being built on human rights abuses.”
Severe abuses including forced labour
The report is based on interviews with 132 migrant construction workers rebuilding Khalifa stadium, set to be the first stadium completed for the tournament and slated to host a World Cup semi-final in 2022. A further 99 migrants also interviewed were landscaping the green spaces in the surrounding Aspire Zone sports complex, where Bayern Munich, Everton and paris-saint-germain-spend-winter-break-at-aspire-academy-in" Paris Saint-Germain trained this winter.
Every single gardener and construction worker who spoke to Amnesty International reported abuse of one kind or another, including: squalid and cramped accommodation, paying large fees ($500 to $4,300) to recruiters in their home country to get a job in Qatar, being deceived as to the pay or type of work on offer (all but six of the men had salaries lower than promised when they arrived, sometimes by half), not being paid for several months, creating significant financial and emotional pressures on workers already burdened with heavy debts, employers not giving or renewing residence permits, leaving them at risk of detention and deportation as “absconded” workers, employers confiscating workers passports and not issuing exit permits so they could not leave the country, being threatened for complaining about their conditions.
Amnesty International uncovered evidence that the staff of one labour supply company used the threat of penalties to exact work from some migrants such as withholding pay, handing workers over to the police or stopping them from leaving Qatar. This amounts to forced labour under international law.
The workers, mostly from Bangladesh, India and Nepal, spoke to Amnesty International in Qatar between February and May 2015. When Amnesty International researchers returned to Qatar in February 2016, some of the workers had been moved to better accommodation and their passports returned by companies responding to Amnesty International findings, but other abuses had not been addressed.
“Indebted, living in squalid camps in the desert, paid a pittance, the lot of migrant workers contrasts sharply to that of the top-flight footballers who will play in the stadium. All workers want are their rights: to be paid on time, leave the country if need be and be treated with dignity and respect,” said Salil Shetty.
Qatar’s sponsorship system leaves workers threatened, living in fear
Qatar’s kafala sponsorship system, under which migrant workers cannot change jobs or leave the country without their employer’s (or “sponsor’s”) permission, is at the heart of the threats to make people work. A much-touted reform of the sponsorship system, announced in late 2015 will do little to alter the power dynamics between migrant workers and their employers.
Some of the Nepali workers told Amnesty International they were not even allowed to visit their loved ones after the 2015 April earthquake that devastated their country leaving thousands dead and millions displaced.
Nabeel (name changed to protect identity), a metal worker from India who worked on the Khalifa stadium refurbishment, complained when he was not paid for several months but only received threats from his employer:
“He just shouted abuse at me and said that if I complained again I’d never leave the country. Ever since I have been careful not to complain about my salary or anything else. Of course, if I could I would change jobs or leave Qatar.”
Deepak (name changed to protect identity), a metal worker from Nepal, said:
“My life here is like a prison. The work is difficult; we worked for many hours in the hot sun. When I first complained about my situation, soon after arriving in Qatar, the manager said ‘if you [want to] complain you can but there will be consequences. If you want to stay in Qatar be quiet and keep working’.” World Cup Welfare Standards not enforced
Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the organization responsible for World Cup 2022 and ultimately for stadium construction published Workers’ Welfare Standards in 2014. They require companies working on World Cup projects to deliver better standards for workers than are provided for under Qatari law.
“The Supreme Committee has shown commitment to workers’ rights and its welfare standards have the potential to help. But it is struggling to enforce those standards. In a context where the Qatari government is apathetic and FIFA is indifferent, it will be almost impossible for the World Cup to be staged without abuse,” said Salil Shetty.
Time for FIFA and sponsors to up the pressure
Amnesty International is calling on major World Cup sponsors like Adidas, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s to pressure FIFA to address the exploitation of workers on Khalifa stadium, and disclose its plan for preventing further abuses in World Cup projects.
FIFA should push Qatar to publish a comprehensive reform plan before World Cup construction peaks in mid-2017.
Essential steps include removing employers' power to stop foreign employees from changing jobs or leaving the country, proper investigations into the conditions of workers and stricter penalties for abusive companies. FIFA itself should carry out, and publish, its own regular independent inspections of labour conditions in Qatar.
“Hosting the World Cup has helped Qatar promote itself as an elite destination to some of the world’s biggest clubs. But world football cannot turn a blind eye to abuse in the facilities and stadiums where the game is played,” said Salil Shetty.
“If FIFA’s new leadership is serious about turning a page, it cannot allow its showcase global event to take place in stadiums built on the abuse of migrant workers.” Facilities at the heart of world football
Khalifa stadium is part of the Aspire Zone sports complex, whose Aspire Academy training and Aspetar medical facilities have been used by some of the world’s biggest football clubs (see backgrounder).
“Some of world football’s biggest stars may already be training on pitches grown and maintained by exploited migrant workers. They could soon be playing in stadiums built by them too,” said Salil Shetty.
“It is time for football’s leaders to speak out or be tainted by association, be they global football brands like Bayern Munich and PSG or major sponsors like Adidas and Coca-Cola.”
Township Rollers Head Coach, Nikola Kavazovic, has left a note on management’s table addressing the futures of Galabgwe Moyana and Lemponye Tshireletso. The duo had their stay at the club in the spotlight as debate over refreshing the squad raged on.
It is reported that Kavazovic had scheduled talks with the attacking midfielders as he seeks to convince them to stay for one more season at the club. The gaffer wants to turn the club’s pot of gold into silverware one more time.
Moyana had already offered himself to premier league rookies, Masitaoka Football Club.However, Rollers has other experienced players and the expectation is that many titles will still be won.
However, the club has made it known that it wants to traverse a torrid passage of CAF champion’s league, reaching group stages, at the very least.It is in this regard that Kavazovic will wants Moyana and Tshireletso to stay.
He hopes their injury nightmares will be arrested hence they could take leading roles to stir the Rollers ship to victory again.More often than not during the last season, their absence left Rollers struggling.But they too, could struggle to return to full fitness missing the opportunity to drive Rollers back to glory days, alongside the rest of Roller veterans in skipper Maano Ditshupo and Ofentse Nato.
But the team’s insistence and promise to make a loud impact in the coming season is still awaiting confirmation. The duo in particular will have to stand strong otherwise the ambition mirrors a tomorrow that will never come.
Engendered into the multi-million project of Jagdish Shah, the players were recruited to embody the present and future of the club and true to that testament, both have played a pivotal role for Rollers to win more silverware.
The talent of the duo, after reuniting with Kavazovic, should make the case for Rollers to once again make headline impact, particularly in the CAF competition starting next year January. Kavazovic agrees that as a unit they could find an edge as clubs are preparing for a return to the field.
Away from the Rollers stage, both players have won many titles with Mochudi Centre Chiefs and are still loved by their followers.When reached for comment, Rollers media liaison officer, Phempheretlhe Pheto, said there are in fact four players who were supposed to leave the club.
He said all will be decided after talks are completed as each player will face the management about the way forward.“It is not only the two guys, they are about four players whose contracts have expired but each one of them is expected to negotiate with management. Their future will be determined by the outcome of the talks,” he said.
The other two players are Kaone van der Westhuizen who is playing as a left back as well as Bogosi Nfila who was signed to bring goals.
Botswana international defender, Lesenya Ramoraka’s situation at TS Galaxy has been explained by his agent Tumi Gabonamong.
The 26 year old defender found himself in a tight situation after his club; Highlands Park’s status was bought by renowned football agent Tim Sukazi of TS Galaxy.
The sudden changes meant that some players were to be released by the team to accommodate new recruitments and changes at the club. As the club status was acquired, Ramoraka’s contract at Highlands was left with a year and the club opted to keep him despite spending much time on the side-lines due to injuries.
According to Gabonamong the lanky left back is part of the new TS Galaxy team although he was not included in the team list for this season. As per information gathered, Ramoroka will only be registered with the team in the next transfer window slated for January.
“He is very much still part of the team. He is currently nursing an injury he sustained during the bubble games. He will of course start training end of November or beginning of December. They’ll only register him in the next transfer period, he’s part of the team,” said Gabonamong.
Ramoraka has proven himself since joining the team in 2018 from Orapa United. Lee as Ramoraka is known in football circles has so far played 29 games for the team, netting only once.
“Ramoraka is one of the players that survived the changes at the team, remember the team doesn’t have many left backs and he is a quality player having so far cemented a place in the starting line-up. I believe after his injury he will fight for a place as usual.
That is why the team kept him therefore people shouldn’t worry that he is not registered this season.There is no need to register a player when you know he will be out for some time. It is only advisable for you to offer him more playing time more especially that he is a foreigner this side.
Again, his injury is healing and he will come back sooner than later. The aim is to keep him this side even when he might not renew his contract but chances are he will be with the team for some time because they have shown much value on him,” explained the wife of former Zebras midfielder, Mogogi Gabonamong
RECONCILED? Former Zebras Coach tshosane and former BFA President Sebego
In the build up to the Botswana Football Association (BFA) National Executive Committee elections, former Senior National Team Coach, Stanley Tshosane had threatened to sue presidential aspirant, Tebogo Sebego, after the latter made suggestions on national radio that the performance of the national team was appalling during the former’s tenure.
Tshosane, who claimed reputational damage, said a number allegations made by Sebego were baseless and unfounded. Sources say Tshosane was livid that Sebego tarnished his reputation and integrity when he deposited averments on national broadcasters to the effect that the national team performance had reached its lowest ebb before the appointment of Brighton Peter Butler.
The Englishman came to supplant Tshosane just a year after The Zebras returned from their maiden African Cup of Nations edition of 2012.Tshosane was therefore ready to draw first blood and demanded retraction, further threatening a legal route in the event Sebego did not act as prescribed.
According to sources close the developments, Sebego however demonstrated leadership qualities and apologized, letting bygones be bygones. Sources say the former BFA administrators have smoked a peace pipe especially that Sebego’s ambition of becoming president disappeared a fortnight ago when he lost again to MacLean Letshwiti in a tightly contested election.
The animosity between Tshosane and Sebego first played out in 2013 when Sebego’s administration sacked the former coach, giving one simple explanation that he was failing to inspire the collective belief within the national squad.
It is said that Tshosane never forgave the past administration for firing him especially that he was on sick leave at the time the letter was delivered to him by the then Chief Executive Officer, Keith Masters. Tshosane was fresh from penning a new deal when he was terminated. At the time he sought legal redress claiming prejudice.
It is not yet clear if Tshosane and the BFA administration have ironed out their differences. When his situation grew precarious in 2013, he felt he was sabotaged by the people he trusted.But sources say the Jackalas number 1 born coach now enjoys a healthy relationship with the association and that is why there is talk suggesting his possible return.
Tshosane was not available for comment as his phone rang unanswered while Sebego refused altogether to share details saying; “I cannot respond to allegations, I mean we need to be respected, this is just senseless.”
Stan, who is now over 60 years, was first appointed to the position of Botswana Senior National Team Coach in 2008, following a short spell as caretaker coach. In 2012, he led the Zebras to their first appearance in AFCON 2012 co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
A year later, in October, after BFA new leadership assumed power and he was sacked for failing to re-write his 2012 success football story. Critics then suggested he was only offered the job because the football association could not afford to hire a better reputable “name’’.
Stan had previously been assistant to the Serbian mentor, Veselin Jelušić, as well as English manager, Colwyn Rowe, for the national team.
Whilst working as an assistant for the national team, he had also been manager of the Botswana Defence Force XI (BDF XI) for a lengthy spell. Stan had also played for BDF XI in his glory days as a football player.