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If all lives matter, if slavery is unacceptable, what is the FA doing about Qatar?

By Tony Attwood

Qatar was awarded the World cup in 2010.  Evidence that has emerged since then suggests very strongly indeed that the award was rigged.  One suggestion among many is that al-Jazeera (since then renamed beIN Sports) had signed a TV contract that included a $100m fee to be paid to Fifa if it won the bid.

Damian Collins, then chairman of the UK’s digital, culture, media and sport committee, demanded an investigation.  The Sunday Times reported that it has seen a second secret TV rights document in which a further $480m was offered by Qatar after that.

The Swiss police are investigating and have recently removed their own most senior prosecutor after it was discovered he had held a number of secret, private meetings with Mr Infantino, the head of Fifa.

Sadly this is not making the news in the UK.  But then nor is the use of slaves to build Qatar’s stadia.

Qatar’s migrant worker population has rapidly expanded, increasing the population of the state by over 60% and the abuse of these low paid, and increasingly not paid migrant workers, means they are working in what is effectively modern slavery.  Documented examples of forced labour and human trafficking are rife.

In October 2013, the Guardian newspaper reported that 44 Nepali workers had died in Qatar in just a two-month period.   Amnesty International reported large scale labour abuse in the construction of the new grounds.

In 2014 the UN Special Report on Migrant Rights also described how “exploitation is frequent and migrants often work without pay and live in substandard conditions,” – in short conditions akin to slavery, for if a worker is not paid, he cannot escape his employer, a prime factor in slavery.

In September 2018, Amnesty International published its findings of how one employer, Mercury MENA, had left many workers stranded and without any money.

Of course this is not called slavery in Qatar, it is called Kafala – a system of employment that links foreign workers exclusively to their employer, and removes all rights from them, including removing the right to change employer or leave the country.  Again it is slavery.

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Because of this control and the banning of trades unions, the employers often fail to pay wages, but still refuse the workers the right to leave.

In the light of protests against this situation, in November 2017 Qatar signed an agreement with the UN International Labour Organisation promising reform of the sponsorship system, access to justice, worker voice, health and safety, and pay and recruitment.  The government also set up a temporary minimum wage, a disputes procedure, and two human rights treaties were ratified.

However there is virtually no enforcement of these new laws, and even where cases are brought before the courts, they can take months or even years to reach the court, which leaves the workers still not being paid, and effectively starving to death and unable to leave.

In August 2018 even Qatar’s World Cup committee agreed that one set of contractors were not abiding by the rules.  Thus Fifa, and all countries that are expecting to play in the World Cup finals in Qatar, and all broadcasters expecting to cover the finals, have a responsibility to ensure there is no slavery in Qatar.

The current issue in the US and the UK over whether statues to past slavers should be removed, should also be raising the issue of a set of world cup venues that have been built on slavery.

It does not matter a jot that slavery might have been reduced in recent years in Qatar.  It would not matter if it had been abolished (it hasn’t, but even if it had it wouldn’t matter). The fact is that the 2022 world cup venues have been built through slavery, and anyone going to the world cup, or being involved in it in any way, is thus supporting slavery.

It doesn’t matter how much players might take the knee and have “Black lives matter” or “All lives matter” slogans on their shirts instead of their names.   The 2022 world cup has been built on slavery, and objecting to a past built on slavery is pointless, if nothing is done about the present based on slavery.

Every TV station, radio station, newspaper, equipment supplier and indeed any player who has anything to do with the 2022 world cup is supporting slavery.  No matter how many times such a person protests otherwise.

Stopping the 2022 world cup by refusing to broadcast it or play in it, is the perfect opportunity to show that everyone’s life really does matter.   Taking a stand on this, would say far far more about the value of the lives of the enslaved, that any statue toppling will ever do.

It will be interesting to see if any newspaper or broadcaster really is concerned about every life mattering, or whether their profit comes first.

 

13 comments to If all lives matter, if slavery is unacceptable, what is the FA doing about Qatar?

  • Laos Gooner

    I was wondering when I read the previous article on this slavery issue whether or not I should be watching the tournament. Now I am 100% clear that I can not watch. Sadly I doubt that there will be enough time for any systemic change to occur or that any investigation will be sufficiently advanced enough to move the tournament elsewhere. I hope this becomes too big to be ignored however there are some very large sums of cash involved so I anticipate a carpet lifting and sweeping motion to be the answer for those with the biggest pockets.

  • Modern day slavery is rife and we ignore it at our peril, both inside and outside of football.

    I know this is a football site and that is what we come on here to discuss – however we cannot just ignore everything else, as the BLM and ALM groups are ensuring that this doesn’t happen.

    It is nothing more than scandalous that in the year 2020 we are seeing and hearing about race related murders and scandals such as those in the USA and the world Cup.

    Like Laos Gooner, I will not be watching one minute of this corrupt organisations take over of the wonderful game of football – just hope it’s a complete farce from beginning to end and then questions can be asked…if our media hasn’t also been tarnished with the same brush.

  • Nitram

    “It doesn’t matter how much players might take the knee and have “Black lives matter” or “All lives matter” slogans on their shirts instead of their names. The 2022 world cup has been built on slavery, and objecting to a past built on slavery is pointless, if nothing is done about the present based on slavery.”

    Exactly.

    This has been an open secret for years yet we haven’t heard a word from any of the currently ‘outraged’ politicians, journalists, personalities, activists or anyone else.

    Being outraged about something that happened 200 years ago is all well and good but you cannot change it. You can acknowledge it and learn from it, even apologise for it, but that doesn’t change a thing, though why I should apologise for something I had absolutely no control over I don’t know.

    I don’t expect the Italians to keep apologising for their ancestors:

    “Slavery (of the Greeks) in ancient Rome played an important role in society and the economy. Besides manual labor, slaves performed many domestic services, and might be employed at highly skilled jobs and professions. Accountants and physicians were often slaves.(source wikipedia)

    Or the Greeks:

    “Slavery was an accepted practice in ancient Greece, as in other societies of the time. Some Ancient Greek writers (including, most notably, Aristotle) described slavery as natural and even necessary. ” (Source Wikipedia)

    Or the Egyptians:

    “Slavery in ancient Egypt existed at least since the New Kingdom (1550-1175 BC). Discussions of slavery in Pharaonic Egypt are complicated by terminology used by the Egyptians to refer to different classes of servitude over the course of dynastic history.” (Source Wikipedia)

    Or the Chinese:

    “Slavery in China has taken various forms throughout history. Slavery was abolished as a legally recognized institution, including in a 1909 law[1][2] fully enacted in 1910,[3] although the practice continued until at least 1949”

    Or the Japanese:

    “Japan had an official slave system from the Yamato period (3rd century A.D.) until Toyotomi Hideyoshi abolished it in 1590. Afterwards, the Japanese government facilitated the use of “comfort women” as sex slaves from 1932 – 1945. Prisoners of war captured by the Japanese were also used as slaves during the Second World War.

    Or anyone else for that matter:

    “Slavery became common within much of Europe during the Early Middle Ages and it continued into the following centuries. The Byzantine–Ottoman wars (1265–1479) and the Ottoman wars in Europe (14th to 20th centuries) resulted in the capture of large numbers of Christian slaves. The Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, British, Arabs and a number of West African kingdoms played a prominent role in the Atlantic slave trade, especially after 1600. (Source Wikipedia).

    As I say, these people making Nations feel guilty about, and apologise for, something they had absolutely nothing to do with, whilst completely ignoring the plight of thousands of people currently in chains, metaphorical or otherwise, is hypercritical in the extreme.

    “It will be interesting to see if any newspaper or broadcaster really is concerned about every life mattering, or whether their profit comes first”.

    I think you know the answer to that Tony.

  • Agh

    I agree with you sir, however I’d have felt been more convinced of the sentiments if it didn’t come from someone who runs a blog where you don’t get a say if you don’t agree with the blogger

  • nicky

    All it would take is a nation or two (with appropriate bottle) to withdraw from Qatar in protest. Then FIFA, not without its own shortcomings, would have to act.

  • WalterBroeckx

    As Untold have written about this subject in the past I can only agree with this and I will not be watching it.

  • Ango

    We shall see about that

  • Nitram, you have missed out, more recently, the German companies that set up factories in labour camps near the concentration camps in Poland and elsewhere and utilised Jewish slave labour from the camps, including my grandfather and my uncle, after whom I am named, who both died in one such labour camp.

    These slaves were abominably treated and lived in inhuman conditions and when they were too tired or ill to work any further, were returned to the concentration camps to be murdered in the gas chambers and replaced by others.

    These companies, many of whom are now world leaders, no doubt, paid the Nazis for the slaves and did not pay the slaves themselves, giving them less than subsistence food, because they knew that there were plenty more where they came from.

    What steps are the statue removers taking against these companies whose ill-gotten gains as a result of the utilisation of slave labour were not such a long time ago?

    I wonder how many of the vociferous BLM and ALM supporters proudly drive Mercedes, Audi, BMW or VW cars.

    Hypocrisy is cheap

  • Nitram

    jjgsol

    Indeed, a poor oversight on my part.

    But to be fair I have absolutely no doubt I have made many other oversights when it comes to those that enslaved others.

    Not just Britain, many of the Worlds greatest economies where shamefully built on slavery and worse, on annihilation and genocide, yet it seems to me there is only one cultural victim that seems to ‘matter’ and only one perpetrator who seems to be being held to account, despite the vast array of Victims and perpetrators throughout the Globe, and despite it still happening under our very noses.

    We keep getting told to be open and honest about our history which is fine, if only the people telling us this where similarly open and honest about the fact that this issue isn’t solely about Black lives, or British Colonialism, but is a much broader problem perpetrated by Whites, Asians, Africans, Orientals and yes, Blacks, with victims of a similarly diverse nature.

    Not only is it a shameful history that we all need to learn from but it is still occurring, yet nobody seems to care, including the BLM who seem to only care about one thing, themselves.

    As you quite rightly say, hypocrisy is cheap.

  • nicky

    jigsol,
    You and your kin have my deepest sympathy over your loss. We must never forget the Holocaust and the appalling effect it had on the Jewish race throughout Europe.

  • Sammy The Snake

    Well said, Tony.
    Find a way to have your voice heard by the masses.

  • Teryima Adi

    It’s horrible to still know that slavery is still going in this present age, and capitalism in football is still supporting it. FIFA is obviously dancing to the tune of dollars. Sad and pathetic