Byggnads lauds Swedish footballers' support for migrant workers

As more and more national football teams and players voice out their support for migrant workers’ rights leading to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Byggnads Chairperson Johan Lindholm welcomed the athletes’ growing awareness over the plight of migrant workers, especially those who laboured in the construction of the tournament’s infrastructure. 

Byggnads, in particular, lauded the Swedish Football Association’s position on migrant workers’ rights, which it elaborately discussed in a letter addressed to FIFA President Gianni Infantino. The football association said that the football community has “a responsibility to ensure that human rights are respected in the context of preparing for and carrying out the tournament.”

To ensure that the 2022 World Cup leaves a positive and lasting legacy for all migrant workers in Qatar, the Swedish FA called on FIFA to: 1) conduct an adequate human rights due diligence to properly investigate whether labour abuse is taking place on World Cup-related sites, act quickly to stop it and remediate any harm caused, 2) use the full extent of its influence, publicly and privately, to urge Qatar to fully implement and enforce its labour reforms and take further measures to protect all workers, including those employed in the service industry, from labour abuse, and 3) take all necessary steps to make sure that all future FIFA tournament awarding decisions include human rights criteria and a human rights due diligence process, to make sure that tournaments are not awarded nor played in countries where there are any concerns regarding human rights issues. 

Byggnads said that they fully support the Swedish FA’s recommendations. “We would like to thank the Swedish FA and all the national football teams and their athletes for using their voices as global sports icons in highlighting the poor living and working conditions of migrant workers worldwide. As trade unionists, we look forward to more fruitful partnerships with them in the promotion of migrant workers’ rights and welfare,” Lindholm said. 

Reacting to speculations that several countries might boycott the World Cup in response to the conditions of migrant workers in Qatar, Byggnads, which traveled to Qatar together with the Swedish FA on several occasions, said that it is fully aware of the sentiments of the hundreds of thousands of Qatar’s migrant workers, especially those who worked in the World Cup construction sites.

“While we understand where this call is coming from, we also understand why many migrant workers in Qatar believe that this could easily dismiss, trivialize and even rollback their hard-won labour reforms. Many of them see the World Cup as an extraordinary platform to call the attention of the international community on the conditions of migrant workers, particularly those working in the realm of sports,” Lindholm said.