Qatar hires law firm to probe worker abuse claims

Unions claim 4,000 labourers could die during building of stadiums

NEWS, Projects, Qatar

Qatar has appointed international law firm DLA Piper to review recent media claims that migrant labourers working on projects for the FIFA 2022 World Cup were being exploited, a senior government official told the AFP news wire.

The Gulf state’s labour ministry appointed the law firm "to independently review all the claims made, and to report on their veracity to the ministry," Ali al-Kholeifi, the ministry's international affairs adviser, was quoted as saying.

The ministry will "take all necessary measures to respond to these allegations once the report is ready," the QNA state news agency quoted him as saying.

"The government of Qatar takes its international commitments seriously, especially following recent allegations of violations" of the international convention on forced labour, Kholeifi said.

The move comes as the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is one of the hot topics of discussion at a two-day executive committee meeting of football’s world governing body FIFA, which was held at the weekend.

Whether to reschedule the tournament from summer to winter has been formally added to the meeting’s agenda, while recently emerged reports of slave labour and construction worker deaths in the Gulf state also may be added to the list of topics, or at least discussed on the sidelines.

A push to move the tournament from the searing summer heat of June-July to winter has gained traction this year but this will be the first time FIFA’s executives have formally discussed the issue.

It appears increasingly likely the event will be delayed until November. Hosting it earlier in the year would see it clash with the Winter Olympic Games.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) claims 4000 labourers, mostly from South Asia and Africa, could die during the construction of stadiums and associated infrastructure for the World Cup.

The union’s figure is based on a revelation revealed last month that 44 Nepalese workers died on World Cup construction sites during summer this year.

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