Amid widespread pressure on FIFA to force Qatar to improve working and living conditions for low-income expats here, the governing body’s officials said on Friday that they will “help resolve this problem through football.”
But President Sepp Blatter reiterated during an Executive Committee (ExCo) meeting in Zurich that the organization “cannot interfere” with Qatar’s policies.
AFP reports him as saying:
“We have some responsibility but we cannot interfere in the rights of workers…
We are insisting that the responsibilities lie first with the state of Qatar and secondly with the companies employing the workers.”
Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, has been in the international spotlight over concerns about the treatment of its hundreds of thousands of workers. Over the past year, there have several reports about a rising number of deaths on construction sites and a prevalence of unsanitary housing conditions.
During Friday’s ExCo meeting, Dr. Theo Zwanziger presented information gathered over the past few months from meetings with human rights organizations, unions and the European Parliament, as well as Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy.
“All these groups must work together to improve the situation,” Zwanziger said.
No specifics about how FIFA will move forward were released, but in a statement, the organization said its ExCO has “agreed that this matter needed to be constantly and very closely looked at.”
The statement continued:
“FIFA President Blatter will visit Qatar before the 2014 Congress in order to discuss progress with the authorities on the matter of labour rights, while a FIFA delegation, including Dr. Zwanziger, will gain first-hand insight.”
Meanwhile, Blatter said renewed bribery allegations that surfaced in the Telegraph this week would be tackled by FIFA’s new ethics committee.
According to the Guardian, when asked whether Qatar could lose the World Cup, he said he “was not a prophet.”
Site visits from FIFA to construction sites here are expected to take place sometime next month.