2022 World Cup: between “shame” and “reform accelerator”

The organization of the World Cup in Qatar was debated in the European Parliament on Monday evening.

The day after the opening of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar , the organization of the event in this small country on the Arabian Peninsula and the human Rights situation there were debated in the plenary of Parliament . European, Monday evening. Under a unanimous critical veneer, positions diverge, between “World Cup of shame” and acknowledgment that some progress has been made.

The Socialists, including the Belgians Marie Arena and Marc Tarabella (PS), defended this last observation in the hemicycle, with nuance. ” It is important today to be able to take stock of the human rights situation in Qatar, with this visibility given by the World Cup, and to see what has been done, what has been violated and what can still be done (…) Yes, Qatar has made progress ,” summed up Marie Arena.

Kafala system
She cites the abandonment of the kafala system (“the law no longer exists as such”) and the presence of NGOs and the ILO (International Labor Organization) on the spot, opposing the fact that ” in some sectors kafala still exists, particularly for homeworkers”, and that there have been “violations and deaths” for which “compensation is needed” (Qatar has so far refused to set up a fund to compensate the families of the workers who died on the stadium sites, the exact number of which is unknown).

Kafala is a system of guardianship of foreign workers , who, once they arrive in the country, are under the sway of their “sponsor” (usually their employer), not being able to leave the country or change jobs without their agreement. Qatar has started a reform of this system, following the numerous criticisms which followed the attribution of the World Cup to Doha.

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” The situation is not perfect, far from it, but the country has embarked on the path of reforms and without doubt the organization of the World Cup is the trigger that has accelerated them, it must recognize today “, insists Marc Tarabella. ” The only nation in the Arabian Peninsula to have done so is this one. And there is the minimum wage, the payment into a bank account, the organization of consultation within companies, even if the unions are still not The unilaterally negative discourse seems to me detrimental to the future evolution of rights in Qatar, because it is important that the positive evolution continues there but also spreads in the Arabian Peninsula, where there are 40 million workers migrants. ”

“World Cup of Shame”

European Commissioner Stella Kyriakides defended the same speech in the hemicycle, adding that “many challenges remain”, and that “human rights and labor rights are the key elements of the Union’s engagement with Qatar. , who is open to this commitment”.

The elected Renew (liberals, macronists) Katalin Cseh and La Gauche (radical left) Manon Aubry did not hesitate to speak of a “World Cup of shame”. “Parliament must condemn Fifa and the host country as strongly as possible ,” said the first. “It’s too late, the cynics say, I hear. It’s not true! “, Frenchwoman Aubry got carried away. She cited the alleged deaths of thousands of migrant workers on construction sites, the aberration of air-conditioned stadiums, the endorsement of “an authoritarian regime” and the ban (by Fifa) on players wearing an armband ” One Love” in support of the LGBTQI community as homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.

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”We must establish a fund to compensate the victims and declare a diplomatic embargo.And above all, we can ensure that this will not happen again: with an ambitious directive on the duty of vigilance, all complicit companies, Fifa , the others, would be held accountable ,” she suggests.

Several political groups have called for a resolution to be voted on following the debate later in the week. A request that passed despite the opposition of the two largest groups in the assembly (the EPP, conservative right, Christian Democrats, and S&D, the Socialists and Democrats). They wanted not to weaken a mission of MEPs (set up by the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament) which will be going to Qatar in a few weeks for a more in-depth examination of human rights and whose the work will lead precisely to a resolution which should be more detailed, we hear behind the scenes.

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