Football fans cry foul over Qatar abuses

West Ham’s first Premier League match at their newly acquired London Olympic Stadium was used by a trade union and football supporter-backed campaign to highlight the ongoing horror of Qatar’s World Cup 2022 preparation. The 21 August day of action marked the start of many by Playfair Qatar, the TUC’s campaign with the Football Supporters’ Federation to raise awareness of the exploitation and abuse faced by workers in the Gulf state. Campaign co-ordinator and TUC policy officer Stephen Russell told the Morning Star: “This stadium was at the heart of the safest Olympics ever – no-one lost their lives. If these standards can be applied for the Olympics they can also happen for the World Cup.” He added: “As a mega-sporting event it stands in stark contrast to the situation in Qatar where hundreds, if not thousands, of people are at risk building both the infrastructure and stadia.” Russell said football’s governing body, Fifa, has the power to put pressure on the Qatari government to ensure that proper health and safety and work conditions are applied, but has continually ignored calls from the global union federation ITUC, unions and Amnesty International to strip Qatar of the tournament. “It is making no effort to reform,” Russell said. “Qatar continues with the Kafala system which binds people in jobs for five years, unable to quit and go to another employer or even just to leave and go back to their families.” He told the Morning Star: “I am not sure what Fifa stand to gain from refusing to act. If Fifa doesn’t take action in Qatar, as the only remaining agency able to compel the Qataris – who clearly have no interest in reforming themselves – then they will have blood on their hands.”