Playfair Qatar asks for help from fan groups

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Playfair Qatar say thousands of workers will die preparing Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup but something can be done to protect them. Whether you're an individual who cares about this or a fan group Playfair Qatar want your help. Find out more from them below...

Dear friend,

It’s been hard to miss the fact that, in 2022, the FIFA World Cup will take place in Qatar.

The fallout from the controversial awarding of the 2022 hosting rights has brought FIFA almost to its knees, but we’re still no closer to fixing the real scandal at the heart of the Qatar World Cup – thousands of workers will die before the first ball is kicked.

Qatar’s labour laws are mostly ignored, leaving workers at risk of horrible injuries on construction sites, stuck in dangerously hot and overcrowded accommodation and with no chance to escape. Those that avoid injury struggle to pay off illegal debts while being paid as little as 45p per hour. Employers know there’ll be no consequences for them if their workers die – no one will prosecute them, and the workers can easily be replaced. Safe from the law, bosses tell their workers that they are responsible for their own safety.

Despite pressure from human rights campaigners, both FIFA and Qatar have done the minimum necessary to keep them afloat in what they see as a PR war. Criticised for dirty and deadly housing, the government has built a few shiny, new accommodation complexes, to which the media and officials are regularly invited.

However, it’s big enough for only a small percentage of the foreign workers already in Qatar, and hundreds of thousands more are needed to deliver Qatar 2022 on time. Qatar’s government has also moved – after a year’s delay – to bring in a system that should force employers to pay wages more regularly. Time will tell if, unlike most laws supposedly there to protect workers, it actually gets enforced.

Meanwhile, 80 foreign workers will continue to die each month, most of them preparing the country to host the World Cup. That means over 100 workers could have died for each game played in 2022. Those workers still have no right to defend themselves through unions or negotiate with employers to improve the conditions they face.

Qatar assumes that as excitement builds towards the most expensive World Cup of all time that opposition will fade away. It addresses some symptoms of the abuse of workers, but never the cause.

Qatar’s grand plan in gaining the World Cup was always to use it as a huge advertisement for the country. Planning a strategy for when their oil runs out, they want to buy the goodwill of the world by laying on a great show for everyone’s favourite sport. They didn’t think for a moment that the world would be appalled by the human cost of 2022, and they’re still in denial: their actions show that they think all this will be forgotten once pictures of gleaming stadium after gleaming stadium get released.

While they continue to think that, they won’t take the action necessary to save lives. We have to show that no one wants a World Cup that costs thousands of lives, and that only by making serious changes can Qatar be allowed the privilege of hosting it.

FIFA has commissioned a report from a UN human rights expert into how it can improve its record on human rights. The report, published independently of FIFA, says that they must give Qatar a simple ultimatum: make real and lasting improvements, or lose the World Cup. So far FIFA has ruled out doing so.

How you can help:

Support from the football community can be a real game changer in getting Qatar to realise that it has made the wrong call on how it treats its workers and letting FIFA know it can’t take fans for granted and has to step in. If you’re willing to help, there are two main ways you can.

Firstly, support our ‘Weekend of Action’, October 15th/16th. This is the big one. We’ve run a few short “meets” at football grounds before matches (each one really boosting the campaign), where people come and hold signs, banners, share leaflets etc and we’d like to do more.

Our plan is to hold a weekend of action on 15th/16th October where we arrange a presence at as many grounds around the country as we can. Based on our more successful previous actions, this would involve you:

  • Publicising the event to your members through your usual channels;
  • Helping identify a suitable spot for everyone to gather and suggesting the best time;
  • Getting a few people from your committee to attend (for no more than 20 minutes);
  • Nominating someone to be the main point of contact between us in working the above out;
  • Supplying an enthusiastic, outgoing volunteer to help persuade passing fans to take part.

Our affiliated unions will be happy to shoulder any further logistics necessary to make it work. They can also boost the numbers, but we’d really like the participation of you and your members to make this a real partnership.

We’d be very happy to discuss this further with someone from your organisation if you thought it was something you could support.

If your team are away that weekend, or you can’t help for any other reason, there’s also our general photo action campaign to collect photos/selfies of fans in their team’s kit holding our Playfair Qatar signs.

We’ve got a nice spread of them, but for it to be really effective we need a lot more. Your committee taking part and then spreading the word amongst your members would be fantastic.

Please also share our campaign film, Foul Play, and promote our petition demanding that FIFA uses its power to make Qatar respect human rights and save workers’ lives.

Yours sincerely - Stephen Russell

Playfair Qatar