BWI and FIFPRO organise Migrant Workers’ Cup in Qatar

A few months before Qatar hosts the 2022 FIFA World Cup, BWI and FIFPRO on 30 March organised a friendly football cup to celebrate migrant workers and to recognise their efforts in making their global dream of equal labour rights possible. 

Dubbed as the “Migrant Workers’ Cup,” migrant workers who built the stadia and provided other services took the stage and played football with professional football players and young trade union leaders to celebrate labour and sports as levers for permanent social change.

In front of guests from trade unions, civil society and human rights and football associations, four teams of migrant workers, footballers and young unionists celebrated equality and solidarity, and engaged in friendly competition to raise the Workers’ Cup trophy.

Since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar in 2010, millions of migrant workers toiled in construction work to build the tournament’s massive infrastructure, and ensured the World Cup could be staged. Construction workers were the focus of global campaigns for decent work as they represent 45 percent of the migrant workforce in Qatar. They came from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Pakistan, and several countries in Southeast Asia and Africa. They tried to escape the poverty in their home countries and, long after the games are over, will continue to be part of Qatar’s labour force. 

For more than a decade, BWI has campaigned for their rights. Since 2016, through the cooperation of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), the delivery agency for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, joint health and safety inspections and workers’ voices programmes were allowed. BWI has witnessed the progress and positive impact that the reforms have brought to the construction workers who built the 2022 World Cup infrastructure. The reforms introduced by the State of Qatar are meant to expand the rights of and protections for the country’s entire migrant workforce, representing about 95 percent of Qatar’s population. 

However, there are still remaining gaps and challenges in fully implementing the reforms.  BWI and other stakeholders feel that a new and ground-breaking step is needed to protect the fundamental rights of workers. This is the aim of the proposal to establish the Migrant Workers’ Centre in Qatar. 

“It is now time that progress made in World Cup stadia takes root across the country. For many years now, BWI has been campaigning for decent work for migrant workers in Qatar. It will continue to do so even after the spotlight of the World Cup has turned to another host country. The legacy of World Cup can only live on in the protections, freedoms and conditions of migrant workers in Qatar. A Migrant Workers’ Centre is a concrete step to make it happen,” said Ambet Yuson, BWI General Secretary.

Commenting on the events, Dietmar Schäfers, BWI Deputy President and Chair of the Working Group on Sports, called on FIFA to take responsibility for ensuring the World Cup’s labour rights legacy. “Turning the World Cup’s spotlight on Qatar means bearing the responsibilities of all the human rights obligations that come along with it. It increased public awareness and encouraged the stakeholders’ more active engagement on sports as a driving force to further advance human and labour rights. Now it the time to secure our gains through the protection and organisation of workers from below.”

Watch the videos here.