FIFA is not responsible for the working conditions of labourers helping to build stadiums for the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar, the president of world football’s governing body Sepp Blatter said on Tuesday.
“In Qatar they are working in big companies from Germany, from France, from England and from other European countries and they are responsible of their workers and not FIFA,” Blatter told reporters on a visit to Sri Lanka.
For decades, migrant workers largely from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines have travelled to the oil-rich Gulf to work as cheap labourers and domestic help.
Qatar has come under increasing scrutiny over its labour practices since FIFA awarded it the right to host the World Cup.
Amnesty International said in November that Qatar has been slow to address concerns about the abuse of migrant workers, six months after it laid out plans for labour reforms.
Despite global pressure on Qatar to address reports of exploitative working conditions, 29,400 people, or 1.4 percent of Qatar’s population, are estimated to be working as slaves, in forced labour or domestic servitude, a report from an NGO estimates.
More than 1.6 million foreign workers are employed in Qatar, where they outnumber the local workforce by nearly 20 to one, according to the Qatari Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
The Qatar Labour Ministry earlier said in a statement that it was committed to improving conditions for workers and had already made changes such as increasing fines for employers who illegally hold employee passports, employing more labour inspectors and shutting down firms operating unsafe sites.
Blatter declined to comment on whether the governing body would release the full report of FIFA’s own investigation by the former US prosecutor Michael Garcia into alleged corruption in the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. .
“The ethics committee is totally independent… You will agree that I will make no comments on the report because I have no right to do so,” Blatter said.
Earlier last month, FIFA’s ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert said in a statement there were no grounds to reopen the controversial bidding process, clearing hosts Qatar and Russia of wrongdoing.
A number of European officials have called on FIFA to publish Garcia’s full report, but the governing body said it could not release it to the public for legal reasons.