Holland boss Louis van Gaal has given his backing for a compensation fund being set up to support families of migrant workers who have died while working to set up the Qatar World Cup.
The call for the fund has been led by Amnesty International, with many families having received no compensation because there was no post mortem and their deaths were not deemed industrial accidents but simply natural causes.
This is despite them largely being relatively young men who were simply working long hours in extraordinary temperatures.
In July, human rights organisations Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and FairSquare wrote to FIFA’s 14 corporate partners and World Cup sponsors urging them to call on world football’s governing body to remedy abuses of migrant workers linked to World Cup preparations.
Now two months before the World Cup kicks off in Qatar, former Manchester United manager van Gaal has voiced his support for the idea, as he insisted FIFA must face the consequences as he hit out at their ‘smart’ decision to award Qatar the tournament.
‘Of course, I am supporting the compensation funds (for the victims of labour abuse in building the World Cup stadiums in Qatar) and I think that must happen especially when you consider that billions, I mean millions that FIFA profits from the tournament.
‘If they are so smart to organise the World Cup there they must stand with all that comes after that decision.’
Van Gaal is not alone in his support for a compensation fund being founded, following results last week that 67 per cent of adults who took part in a YouGov poll commissioned by Amnesty International believe FIFA should use World Cup revenues to compensate workers who have suffered.
That support rose to 84 per cent for those likely to watch at least one game at the tournament. The poll surveyed more than 17,000 adults across 15 countries, including Argentina, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, UK, and the USA.
It is not known whether England will join the call for a compensation fund to be set up, but Gareth Southgate and the FA are expected to make a clear statement on Qatar’s human rights this week.
The England manager has has raised the issue of workers’ human rights before while captain Harry Kane said he would speak to fellow international captains about players making a joint symbolic gesture in support of human rights.
It is expected FA chief executive Mark Bullingham, who has been part of the UEFA Working Group on Qatar, will take a lead in the FA’s positioning.
The UEFA Working Group on Qatar has already supported the creation of a Workers’ Centre, a safe space for labourers in Qatar to receive representation in labour disputes, as a World Cup legacy.
The FA are now expected to call for the Workers’ Centre to be established, having been criticised for not making an earlier collective statement on human rights in Qatar.
In response to the survey: FIFA said: ‘FIFA takes note of the poll conducted on behalf of Amnesty International, featuring respondents from 10 countries in Europe and five countries from the rest of the world on the question of labour standards and protections in Qatar.
‘Respondents may not be fully aware of the measures implemented in recent years by FIFA and its partners in Qatar to protect workers involved in the delivery of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
‘As recognised by independent experts, such as the International Labour Organization and international unions, a wide range of measures have been implemented over the past years to improve protections for workers in Qatar, and these developments have come about largely as a consequence of the World Cup being played in the country.
‘These measures were complemented by the steps taken by the Ministry of Labour to enforce Qatari labour law and provide for access to remediation, such as through the Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund.
‘FIFA will continue its efforts to enable remediation for workers who may have been adversely impacted in relation to FIFA World Cup related work in accordance with its Human Rights Policy and responsibilities under relevant international standards.’