Think Football: "We'd like $440m added to a fund for Qatar 2022 workers" (L. Schulmann, Amnesty)
"FIFA will generate $6bn in profits during the World Cup. We would like to see a sum of $440m added to a compensation fund for workers and victims of the organisation of this World Cup. An amount that corresponds to what all the teams will receive," said Lola Schulmann, advocacy officer at Amnesty International France, during Think Football 2022, an event organised annually by News Tank Football, held this year at the FFF headquarters in Paris (FRA), on 04/10/2022.
Lola Schulmann participated in an exchange entitled "Qatar 2022: what will be its legacy?" alongside Jean-Baptiste Guégan, expert and author on the geopolitics of sport.
"If we can't change the past, we can change the legacy of this World Cup. Our campaign "Ramener la Coupe à la raison" (Bringing the Cup back to sanity) aims to raise awareness of human rights issues in Qatar. But above all, we want concrete decisions to be taken," added the representative of Amnesty International France.
"The boycott of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is the wrong response to a real problem. Historically, no boycott has produced political results. A boycott is a refusal of dialogue with another. If you boycott, you don't engage in dialogue. You won't understand the other person or make them change. On the other hand, the threat of a boycott made people react and opened a field for discussions," said Jean-Baptiste Guégan.
"After putting up a banner in front of the FFF headquarters, we were given a meeting in April 2022" (L. Schulmann, Amnesty International)
• "Amnesty did not wake up in 2022. We have been working on the situation regarding migrant workers' rights in Qatar since 2010. Our first report on working conditions was in 2013. Since then, we have been trying to alert the authorities, Qatar, the Supreme Committee, FIFA and, at the national level, the FFF.
• As early as 2016, we launched the campaign 'J’aime le foot, pas le travail forcé' (I love football, not forced labour), around which we asked to arrange a first meeting with the FFF, and did not get a response. But we did not stop there. In December 2021, after several letters without a response, we took action by putting up a nice banner in front of the FFF headquarters. After that, we were given a meeting in April 2022.
• The issue of migrant workers' rights is of concern to us all. If we can't change the past, we can change the legacy of this World Cup. Our campaign 'Ramener la Coupe à la raison' aims to raise awareness of human rights issues in Qatar. But above all, we want concrete decisions to be taken.
• I welcome the public announcements made by Philippe Diallo (FFF vice-president) on Tuesday 04/10/2022. I hope that the journalists have taken note of the FFF's commitment to the compensation fund and its desire for FIFA to commit itself quickly. 70% of French people want the FFF to speak out on the subject, and this has been the case since this morning."
"A compensation fund for the victims of the organisation of this World Cup"
• "We were not familiar with the sports world at Amnesty. But we have received a great welcome, support and coverage from sports journalists. They followed our exchanges, projects and supported our demands. I salute them because it is not part of the French culture to work on these human rights issues, but it should not be a taboo.
• We have also had a very good reception from the supporters. We have worked, in particular, with FSE (Football Supporters Europe), who have welcomed the campaign.
• We have always tried to maintain a dialogue with sponsors and to challenge them on human rights issues. As far back as 2015-2016, we approached FIFAsponsors.
• FIFA will generate $6bn in profits during the event. We would like to see a sum of $440m added to a compensation fund for the victims of the organisation of this event. A sum that corresponds to what all the teams will receive. A symbolic amount, but symbolism is necessary.
• We are not the only ones to support the compensation fund for workers who have suffered serious violations of their rights, who have not received wages for months, who have not been compensated for accidents at work, and the relatives of workers who have died on the construction sites. Other NGOs such as HWR (Human Rights Watch) are also behind this project. We won't change the past, but we can change the legacy of this World Cup by bringing justice to the victims of the organisation of this event.
• This year, in July, we sent a letter to all FIFA sponsors asking them to support the compensation fund. We received four positive responses (Coca-Cola, McDonald's, adidas, Budweiser). The others did not respond or did not wish to engage in dialogue."
"The World Cup in Qatar has allowed the country to ratify several international covenants"
• "According to one of our surveys, 66% of the population worldwide and 61% in France want sponsors to commit to human rights. There is a crucial issue around sponsors, who may not want to be associated with an event with such a legacy on rights.
• It is essential that different members of the ecosystem support this fund, as we want FIFA to be committed by 20/11/2022 and the start of this World Cup. Several other federations already support this fund: the English, German and Dutch football associations.
• In 2010, the question of rights did not appear in the awarding of the World Cup. No consideration was requested from Qatar. The question now is: how do we ensure that human rights issues are not optional? Human rights must be at the heart of the discussions, so that this does not happen again.
• Amnesty has always noted when there have been developments in Qatar. The World Cup in Qatar has allowed the country to ratify several international covenants for the respect of human rights, labour and civil rights, and has passed legislation supporting labour rights.
• However, there are still many rights violations with only a few weeks to go before the start of the World Cup, and the legislation has not been sufficiently implemented. We are encouraging the implementation of the legislative framework in Qatar."
Lola Schulmann, advocacy officer for Amnesty International France, 04/10/2022
"What does the boycott change for the workers?" (J-B. Guegan)
• "The boycott of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is the wrong response to a real problem. Historically, no boycott has produced political results. A boycott is a refusal of dialogue with another. If you boycott, you don't engage in dialogue. You won't understand the other person or make them change.
• On the other hand, the threat of a boycott made people react and opened a field for discussions.
• The boycott is the simplest solution, but then what do we do? What does it change for the workers? Sport has the capacity to change the world. It brings a kind of progressivism. But sport tends to hide behind a kind of apolitical sport, which is a convenient myth.
• Now the boycott is coming back like a boomerang. The federations are being asked, questioned, put under pressure. We are all embarrassed by this World Cup. We know what is going on in the Qatari regime. Just as we knew about Russia. And the question will also arise for the United States, co-hosts of the 2026 World Cup, where we see the evolution of women's rights."
"The World Cup in Qatar is the first time we've talked about human rights"
• "These questions are also of interest to brands, for their image associated with these events.
• The boycott of certain cities with the absence of giant screens? Lille was the first city not to put up a giant screen for "political reasons". The reality is what? That it will be just before winter, that it will be very cold in Lille, that there is a security problem in France when it comes to organising these events, that the energy question arises and that the budgets of local authorities are exploding with the price of energy.
• The political use of the word 'boycott' does no one any good. The boycott hysterises the debate and prevents people from thinking. If you are a politician and you need to use football to exist, you have a problem. You have no credibility on anything else.
• The World Cup in Qatar will be the first event in history to be moved for climatic reasons. It is also the first time that we have talked about human rights.
• In 2018, this was not in the media, while North Korean slave labourers were working on the Russian stadiums. And we have seen that the legacy of the 2018 World Cupin Russia has been problematic, especially with the war in Ukraine.
• Actors who organise major events, such as FIFA, must assume their status as a geopolitical force. By assuming this, they will be factors for progress in an increasingly fragmented and complex world. If the partners decide to be moral, and to show a positive and ethical image, they will ask FIFA to change. So they should go for it.
• There is a step forward to be noted, however. For all future events, the media will be obliged to deal with these issues."
Jean-Baptiste Guégan, expert and author on the geopolitics of sport, 04/10/2022
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