Amnesty International has accused FIFA of brushing human rights concerns “under the carpet” after president Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura called on participating nations to “focus on the football” at the World Cup.
The decision to stage the World Cup in Qatar has been criticised due to concerns over the country’s human rights record, with the conditions of migrant workers and the criminalisation of homosexuality being highlighted.
Less than two weeks before the World Cup begins, Infantino and Samoura wrote to each participating nation, saying football must not be dragged “into every ideological or political battle that exists”.
Amnesty, who called on FIFA to create a compensation fund for workers who suffered during the tournament’s preparations in May, has now hit out at those comments.
In a media release on Friday, the human rights charity repeated the demand for compensation and lamented organisers’ “astonishing” failure to address the concerns of the LGBTQ+ community.
“If Gianni Infantino wants the world to ‘focus on the football’, there is a simple solution: FIFA could finally start tackling the serious human rights issues, rather than brushing them under the carpet,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty’s head of economic and social justice.
“A first step would be publicly committing to the establishment of a fund to compensate migrant workers before the tournament kicks off, and ensuring that LGBT people do not face discrimination or harassment. It is astonishing they still have not done so.
“Gianni Infantino is right to say that ‘football does not exist in a vacuum’.
“Hundreds of thousands of workers have faced abuses to make this tournament possible and their rights cannot be forgotten or dismissed.
“They deserve justice and compensation, not empty words, and time is running out.”