Washington, DC- U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chair of the Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, announced that he has called on the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to reallocate the 2022 World Cup from Qatar to United States amid continued reports about Qatar’s widespread labor abuses and allegations of corruption and bribery that led up to the selection of Qatar as the host of the 2022 World Cup. Continued investigations into Qatar have revealed that migrant workers make as little as $6.75 for a full day of manual labor while facing the threat of illegal fees and withheld wages. Additionally, many of these migrant workers are reported to be forced to live in labor camps with often unsanitary conditions. As concerns about Qatar’s labor practices continue to mount so do concerns about how the 2022 World Cup was awarded to the country. An investigation by the Sunday Times has unearthed serious allegations of bribery in the lead up to the selection. The U.S. was the runner-up to Qatar. Moving the 2022 World Cup to the United States would have a significant economic impact in both the lead up to and during the tournament for 18 cities, including Philadelphia.
“Rewarding these labor practices with the 2022 World Cup is the wrong approach” Senator Casey said. “Recent reporting has raised new concerns about the way Qatar treats its workers and the manner in which the country was selected for the 2022 World Cup. FIFA’s own President has recently called the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar a “mistake.” I’m urging FIFA to remove the cloud that hangs over the 2022 World Cup and swiftly reallocate this event. The U.S. submitted a quality bid to FIFA that should once again be given serious consideration. Bringing the 2022 World Cup to the U.S. will also have a significant jobs impact that strengthens our economy.”
The full text of Senator Casey’s letter to FIFA can be seen below:
Joseph S. Blatter
Fédération Internationale de Football Association
Dear Mr. Blatter
I am writing to urge the FIFA executive committee to re-allocate the winning bid for the 2022 World Cup from Qatar to the United States due to significant concerns regarding workers’ rights in Qatar and corrupt practices surrounding the original Qatari bid for the tournament.
I am aware that a recent investigation by The Sunday Times, based on millions of emails and documents, uncovered that the disgraced former vice-president of FIFA, Mohammed Bin Hammam, gave cash and gifts totaling more than $5 million to senior FIFA officials ahead of the vote on the 2022 bids. These allegations also come in the wake of a March report that a senior FIFA official was paid almost $2 million by a Qatari firm involved in the World Cup bid.
According to Qatari statistics, 94% of Qatar’s workforce is composed of migrant workers, the highest ratio of migrants to citizens worldwide. Media reports have estimated over a million additional workers may be needed to complete planned construction leading up to the World Cup.
Qatar’s “kafala” sponsorship immigration system leaves workers highly vulnerable to abusive and exploitative employment practices. Workers are almost universally forced to surrender their passports, allowing employers to forbid workers to leave their jobs or travel outside of the country. Employers often do not complete legal procedures to secure work permits, leaving workers at risk of arrest and deportation at any time.
According to a Human Rights Watch report, migrant workers often pay extortionate fees to recruiters to obtain jobs, in which they are often paid between $6.75 and $11 for a full day of manual labor. Illegal fees and withheld wages have been widely reported.
Migrant workers are often housed in labor camps with overcrowded and unsafe conditions. Safety provisions on work sites are enormously inadequate, and workplace injuries are the third highest cause of accidental deaths in Qatar. Qatar also lacks a minimum wage and does not permit migrants to participate in unions or collective bargaining.
Qatar’s host bid was classified as “high risk” by FIFA’s own inspectors in the run-up to the selection process. You even recently said that selecting Qatar was “a mistake.” I remain concerned that average temperatures in Qatar can exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, endangering the health of both players and spectators.
It is clear that allowing the World Cup and the infrastructure projects leading up to it to take place in Qatar is no longer acceptable in the face of allegations of bribery and labor rights abuses. I strongly believe the best course of action in this instance would be to re-allocate the right to host the World Cup to the United States, the runner-up in the bid process completed in November 2010. The United States has 50 cities with stadium facilities capable of hosting the tournament. The previous organization of the 1994 World Cup in the U.S. was met with widespread approval.
I appreciate that there is no procedural precedent for awarding a bid to the runner-up in the case of a winning nation being disqualified. However, given these extraordinary circumstances, it would be prudent and fair to immediately begin preparations and make up for four years of lost time. I also appreciate the position of FIFA Vice president, Jim Boyce, in support of a re-vote on bidding countries. In the event that passing on the winning bid to the United States is not possible, I urge the FIFA executive committee to call a re-vote on the allocation of the 2022 World Cup.
I hope FIFA considers these concerns seriously and takes swift action to revoke hosting rights for the 2022 FIFA World Cup from Qatar and awards them to the U.S.
Senator Robert P. Casey Jr.
Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee
United States Senate