The Football World Cup has a poor human rights record – workers are repeatedly exploited, people are displaced and street vendors are deprived of their income. Solidar Suisse pressures Fifa– in its capacity as World Cup organiser it is within its power to uphold human rights.
Exploitation and displacement
Human rights are grossly violated on a regular basis in the run-up to a Football World Cup. For instance, tens of thousands of people were driven from their homes ahead of World Cups in South Africa, Brazil and Russia. Stadium workers had to toil for low wages. Street vendors lost their income. In Qatar, which is hosting the 2022 World Cup, foreign workers are systematically exploited. Fifa organises the World Cups and makes billions in profit, yet for years it has shunned any responsibility for the abuses associated with the championship.
Since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Solidar Suisse has been raising awareness about the human rights violations associated with the Football World Cup. Efforts have been focused on Switzerland, because Fifa is headquartered in Zurich. Through campaigns, well-informed research prior to and following World Cups, requests, petitions, films, letter initiatives and face-to-face discussions with Fifa executives, we repeatedly force the football association to confront unpleasant facts.
FIFA takes action
Tens of thousands of people supported our campaigns. They were successful – in South Africa, we and our network managed to secure an increase to the wages paid to, and improved job security for, stadium workers. In Brazil we helped get the World Cup organisation to employ – rather than drive away – 2,000 street vendors. The situation of migrant workers in Qatar is slowly improving due to significant global pressure. Our years-long fight for Fifa to introduce a sustainability code contributed to the moves by Fifa to anchor human rights in the Fifa Statutes, to develop a Human Rights Policy and to set up an independent Fifa Human Rights Advisory Board. It remains to be seen, however, whether the new requirements will be worth more than the paper they are printed on.
«We answer questions on labour law via Facebook, e.g. what can I do if I want to leave the country or if my wages aren’t paid? What rights do I have if I’m injured? Is it possible to go on strike in Qatar?»
In South Africa, stadium workers and in Brazil, street vendors benefited from the Solidar campaign. And Qatar has improved its labour laws.
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