The delegation composed of newly-elected FIFPRO President David Aganzo, General Secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann and Deputy General Secretary Simon Colosimo held meetings with the International Labour Organization (ILO) office in Qatar and its partner Building and Wood Workers International (BWI).
“The legislative reforms in Qatar have been broadly recognized by international institutions,” Baer-Hoffmann said following the meetings. “However it is clear that in practice many workers and citizens still do not enjoy basic human rights and freedom. That can be seen in the pushback against the abolition of the kafala system, recurring abuse of construction workers and domestic workers, and questions about the lack of access to a fair trial as highlighted by the ongoing case of Abdullah Ibhais. Furthermore, there are concerns expressed by many players for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community in Qatar. In all these areas we need to see more urgent change for the World Cup to indeed have its pre-announced positive and lasting legacy.”
The meetings also included the first talks between Aganzo and FIFA President Gianni Infantino. Aganzo discussed the need for immediate action on football policy priorities such as the reform of the transfer system, racism and sexual abuse in the game and the responsible reform of the international match calendar and competitions. Aganzo called on FIFA to reform its governance in a manner that gives players their rightful position in decision making on issues that concern their careers, livelihoods and sport. He also used the meeting to express to FIFA the call by players to urgently put more weight behind human rights improvements before the start of the World Cup.
The FIFPRO delegation also met with officials of the Qatar Players Association, as well as a group of footballers, to discuss the progress in Qatari football, the conditions for domestic and expatriate players and how to best help empower the union to take a greater foothold in the domestic game.
Aganzo said: “It was a privilege to have the opportunity to learn first-hand about the situation of the migrant workers in Qatar and to understand what more we, the international football community, need to do ahead of the World Cup. Football cannot yet be satisfied with the progress so far and we call on the Qatar government, FIFA and all other stakeholders to ensure we do more to help those who are still lacking basic human rights and freedom.
“It was also important to relay first hand to Gianni Infantino the concerns faced by players around the world. Football has many challenges from racism in the game, an overcrowded calendar, a transfer system that disadvantages many players, and more. Governing the game must mean to finally tackle those and many other issues. This can only be done when organizations like ours, which represents the players at the heart of the game, have their rightful space in football’s governance.”
Photo: Fans arrive for a match at the Ras Abu Aboud Stadium World Cup Stadium in Qatar for an Arab Cup match.