Posts Tagged ‘World Cups’

Amnesty International calls on Fifa to take stance against

Amnesty International calls on Fifa to take stance against

Amnesty International claims in a 166 page report released on Sunday that workers arriving in Qatar to work on construction projects related to the tournament in nine years’ time are subjected to “non payment of wages, harsh and dangerous working conditions, and shocking standards of accommodation”.

Amnesty International’s secretary general Salil Shetty said: “Our findings indicate an alarming level of exploitation in the construction sector in Qatar.

“Qatar is recruiting migrant workers at a remarkable rate to support its construction boom, with the population increasing at 20 people an hour. Many migrants arrive in Qatar full of hopes, only to have these crushed soon after they arrive. There’s no time to delay the government must act now to end this abuse. Employers in Qatar have displayed an appalling disregard for the basic human rights of migrant workers. Many are taking advantage of a permissive environment and lax enforcement of labour protections to exploit construction workers.

“The world’s spotlight will continue to shine on Qatar in the run up to the 2022 World Cup, offering the government a unique chance to demonstrate on a global stage that they are serious about their commitment to human rights and can act as a role model to the rest of the region.”

In response, Amnesty International received a letter dated October 9, 2013, from Fifa vice president Jerome Valcke, in which he wrote: “The topic of labour rights and working conditions in Qatar was included by our president in the agenda of the recent Fifa Executive Committee meeting held in Zurich on October 3/4.

“In previous official statements and in communication with human rights organisations in the past, Fifa has made very clear that we uphold the respect for human rights and the application of international norms of behaviour as a principle and part of all our activities. Fifa shares and understands Amnesty International’s efforts towards social justice and respect for human rights and dignity, which are very much anchored in the statutes and purpose of our organisation.

“We firmly believe in the positive power that the Fifa World Cup can have in Qatar and in the Middle East as a great opportunity for the region to discover football as a platform for positive social change, including an improvement of labour rights and conditions for migrant workers.

“Despite the current main focus of our work being the 2014 and 2018 World Cups in Brazil and Russia, we will strengthen our exchanges with the Qatar 2022 Local Organising Committee and will continue to promote dialogue between them, the Qatari Ministry of Labour, ILO and civil liberty organisations. It is Fifa’s aim that the host countries of our flagship event ensure healthy, safe and dignified working conditions for all nationals and foreigners, including construction workers involved in the preparation of the event.”

FIFA clamps down on unethical behavior for vote

FIFA clamps down on unethical behavior for vote

ZURICH (Reuters) FIFA has promised a zero tolerance approach to unethical behavior in the contest to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in response to comments made by the body’s former general secretary to undercover newspaper reporters.

“FIFA and the ethics committee are committed to have zero tolerance for any breach of the code of ethics and the bid registration,” soccer’s governing body in a statement on Monday.

The Sunday Times newspaper in Britain posted a film of Michel Zen Ruffinen talking to undercover reporters about the bid process, fueling the controversy surrounding the hosting of the two tournaments.

Zen Ruffinen, general secretary from 1998 until he left soccer’s governing body in 2002 after accusing FIFA president Sepp Blatter of mismanagement, later called for an external investigation into alleged corruption.

Last week, two members of FIFA’s executive committee members were provisionally suspended on suspicion of selling their votes in the contest to host the two tournaments.

Nigerian Amos Adamu and Tahiti’s Reynald Temarii were banned from all football related activity for 30 days while FIFA’s own ethics committee investigates allegations they offered to sell their votes when approached by Sunday Times journalists posing as lobbyists for an American consortium.

“FIFA has immediately requested to receive all the documents and potential evidence that the newspaper has in relation to this matter, and will in any case analyze the material available.

FIFA is due elect the hosts of the two World Cup tournaments on December 2 in Zurich with only the 24 members of the executive committee entitled to vote.

It is still not clear what will happen if the pair are found guilty as any replacements would have to be elected by their respective confederations.

FIFA have not commented on the possibility that the election could go ahead with only 22 voters and general secretary Jerome Valcke said last Wednesday that there had been no discussion over postponing the vote.

England, Russia, Spain/Portugal and Belgium/Netherlands are bidding to host the 2018 World Cup while Japan, South Korea, Australia, United States and Qatar are candidates for 2022.

FIFA might be in over its head in Brazil

FIFA might be in over its head in Brazil

There’s a Brazilian saying, “oito ou oitenta.” Eight or eighty. It’s either one extreme or the other.

The past nine days have seen a usually passive, non confrontational Brazilian population hit the “80” on that scale, taking to the streets in their millions to demand better health care, better education, an end to corruption and, with the FIFA World Cup arriving on its shores in less than a year, to protest the tens of billions of Reais being spent on stadiums instead of social infrastructure.

The World Cup, and the ongoing Confederations Cup that precedes it, has become a useful backdrop to protesters who claim the government has its priorities mixed up, but it would be a mistake and a lazy one to label these demonstrations “football riots.”

As a popular action, what’s going on in Brazil looks and sounds a lot like recent and concurrent protests in other parts of the world, particularly those that have experienced significant economic growth over the past decade and are home to young, energetic populations with first world expectations to accompany their arrival in it.

Between 2003 and 2011 nearly 40 million Brazilians made their way from extreme poverty to a new, burgeoning middle class, and while economic inequality is still considered extreme by Canadian standards it is nothing like it was before the new millennium.

A generation of Brazilians has now grown up within this new reality, and on June 13 a handful of them gathered in Sao Paulo to protest a hike in transit fares.

What might have dissipated over time or with a reversal of the decision (which was granted this week) suddenly and unexpectedly escalated when police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd, and like breath blown on sleeping embers their heavy handed use of force brought the kindling to ignition.

Reached by telephone in Sao Paulo, TV Globo presenter Jon Cotterill told the Free Press that many Brazilians were still trying to make sense of just what the protests had become, and where they could lead.

“I think people haven’t really grasped how significant these things are,” he said. “I don’t think they really, really understand how deep these things, these demonstrations, could be.”

Initially, he said, the students who first took the streets in Sao Paulo were looked upon as “vandals” and “troublemakers” by various politicians and media outlets, but, he added, “when they were fired on it really changed. Instead of being these middle class students just out to cause trouble, suddenly they became heroes. Everything changed totally.”

With the Confederations Cup and upcoming World Cup fixing more international attention on Brazil than ever before, it was only a matter of time before both events not only got drawn into the demonstrations but also, because of their enormity, came to symbolize them.

The magnitude of the scrutiny and the pressure imposed by FIFA to stage safe, secure competitions has likely had more than a little to do with the severe approach taken by the police, and to that end the governing body of the world’s most popular sport is very much tied up with all the other things Brazilians want to see changed.

On Thursday, following Uruguay’s 2 1 Confederations Cup win over Nigeria in Salvador, protesters hurled rocks at FIFA vehicles in the Bahia capital, and as demonstrations took place in at least 80 cities Brazilian outlet UOL reported FIFA had presented the Brazilian government with an ultimatum: either ensure the safety of the players, international press and its own officials or face cancellation of the event.

Paulo Freitas, a Brazilian football expert based in Rio de Janeiro, told the Free Press he would be surprised if the Confederations Cup was cancelled, or if the World Cup was in any danger, saying, “(FIFA) will just wait until all of this is over and hope things are more stable in a year, probably with increased and improved security.”

The thing is, no one knows just where these demonstrations will take the country over the coming weeks and months, and even if the Brazilian government moves to address the protesters’ concerns it’s unlikely FIFA will emerge from all this unscathed.

After all, it sets up its World Cups like a tropical resort a sort of hastily manufactured paradise that caters to the amusements of foreigners.

If things are kept to an “eight” it all works out fine. It’s when it hits 80 that things get messy that FIFA, quite rightfully, is caught in the crosshairs.