Nepali groups urge FIFA to 'make things right' for migrant workers


Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - FIFA Legends Event - Hyatt Regency Oryx Doha, Doha, Qatar - December 11, 2022 FIFA president Gianni Infantino during the FIFA Legends Event REUTERS/Paul Childs

Dec 15: More than three dozen Nepali civil society groups on Thursday called on FIFA President Gianni Infantino to "stop looking the other way" while migrant workers are denied compensation after having "suffered abuses in Qatar", Amnesty International said.

The 2022 World Cup host nation, where foreigners make up most of the 2.9 million population, has faced intense criticism from human rights groups over its treatment of migrant workers.

The government of Qatar said its labour system was still a work in progress. Still, it denied allegations in a 2021 Amnesty report that thousands of migrant workers in the host nation were being trapped and exploited.

In the open letter to Infantino, the Nepali organizations demanded compensation for workers who they said had suffered abuse and families who have lost loved ones.

"The stories of stolen wages and broken dreams are part of our everyday life," the letter said. "We are far too familiar with images of coffins arriving at Tribhuvan International airport.

"... we, therefore, call on you, President Infantino, to stop looking the other way while the citizens of our country - and all other nationalities - are denied their rights."

Around 400,000 workers from Nepal are employed across a range of sectors in Qatar, per Amnesty International, and played a massive part in building the vast infrastructure projects required to host the 2022 World Cup.

"Families have spiralled into poverty, children have been taken out of school, and workers forced to migrate again to pay off debts," said Som Prasad Lamichhane, executive director of Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee, which helped organise the letter. "FIFA ... must act to make things right."

The letter said it was "next to impossible" for migrant workers to access a compensation fund set up by Qatar to reimburse stolen wages if they had already returned to Nepal.

It also said families did not receive compensation if the causes of their loved ones' deaths were not found to be linked to their work.

FIFA and tournament organisers the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy were not immediately available for comment.

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