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Soccer-UEFA welcomes FIFA pledge to tackle Qatar labor issues

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DOHA — A group of 11 European football associations said it welcomed promises from FIFA of support for migrant laborers in Qatar and the creation of a legacy fund from 2022 World Cup proceeds for what it said were some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

The UEFA Working Group on Human and Labour Rights, made up of representatives from the football associations of Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales, said it had met world football’s governing body on Sunday and “can confirm that substantial progress has been made on key issues”.

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It said FIFA had confirmed support for a permanent International Labour Organization (ILO) office in Doha that would support and advise migrant workers.

“This fulfills the request we made some time ago for a migrant worker support center,” UEFA said in a statement. “In addition, we welcome FIFA’s commitment to work with the relevant authorities to ensure that all migrant workers will receive financial compensation in cases where they have not been paid in time or have been injured in any work-related accident.”

The football associations said they had been advised that more than $350 million had been paid out in compensation to workers in Qatar since 2018, in cases mainly dealing with late and non-payment of wages.

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“Ensuring effective implementation of the compensation system will be one of the key tasks of the migrant worker center and is a welcome development since it is critical to ensure that all the reforms introduced by the Qatari authorities in recent years are applied in practice and that all migrant workers are aware of their rights,” the statement said.

LEGACY FUND

The UEFA group also welcomed FIFA plans to use the legacy fund from the Qatar World Cup to help “some of the most vulnerable people in the world and, in particular, to assist with education for girls and young women.”

Profits from past World Cups have been put into legacy funds for the host nation to use for the development of the game.

The UEFA group said FIFA had also promised to establish a “labor excellence hub” utilizing the experience gained from Qatar to “protect and benefit workers around the world”.

The UEFA group plans to return to Qatar next year to check on these initiatives, it said.

Some European football associations have been critical of human rights in Qatar, where the World Cup kicked off on Sunday, especially the country’s treatment of foreign workers and LGBT rights. (Editing by Jane Merriman)

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