Is FIFA legally responsibible for the behavior of World Cup host nations?
To prepare Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, more than 1.7 million migrant workers have worked on stadium and infrastructure projects that journalists and human rights groups say have been defined by systematic abuse, including forced labor that some call modern-day slavery. On Sunday night, a Bangladeshi migrant worker sued world soccer’s governing body for its role, according to The Guardian. It is the first time FIFA has been held accountable for Qatar’s labor system.
FIFA sitting president Gianni Infantino, who arrived at the position after the ousting of Sepp Blatter last year, now has three weeks to accept complicity in the legal challenge, which was brought forth by the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation on behalf of Bangladeshi migrant worker Nadim Sharaful Alam.
Sunday’s action could set legal precedent for migrant workers groups to hold FIFA accountable for labor conditions. Qatar’s kafala migrant labor system, which has been likened to contemporary slavery and was the subject of a recent critical report by Amnesty International, should have been an initial impediment to Qatar’s World Cup bid, according to the letter received by Infantino.
The letter also called for an observation of fundamental worker's rights, including the ability for migrant workers to unionize, change jobs, or leave Qatar, and said that FIFA was legally implicated from the moment it allowed Qatar to participate in the bidding for the 2022 World Cup site.
FIFA has yet to release an official statement or response, but has previously claimed that it’s only responsible for actions that host nations take to build World Cup stadiums, and that is not responsible for public infrastructure.