Swiss Court Rejects Human Rights Claim Against FIFA

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FIFA chief Infantino on a trip to Qatar in April 2016 (Getty Images)
(WFI) A Swiss court has dismissed claims accusing FIFA of wrongful conduct and liability concerning alleged human rights violations linked to construction work in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.

The lawsuit was lodged by the Dutch trade union FNV, the Bangladeshi Free Trade Union Congress, the Bangladesh Building and Wood Workers Federation. They had demanded improved labor laws in the tiny Gulf state to protect the rights of thousands of migrant workers involved in the big building effort for the World Cup.

In a statement, FIFA said Friday it “takes the issue of working conditions and human rights in connection with the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar very seriously”.

“FIFA monitors the situation very closely and, as recently stated by president Infantino, will continue to urge the Qatari authorities to ensure safe and decent working conditions for construction workers," FIFA said.

FIFA pointed to the development of new systems in Qatar to identify and address human rights risks linked to the 2022 event. This includes the Workers’ Welfare Standards that is supposed to be contractually binding for all contractors and sub-contractors working on World Cup construction sites, a compliance check for all tenderers, regular reporting that is publicly available, and a four-tier system of auditing for working conditions, including by an independent specialised agency.

Staffing Conflicts

FIFA has hired two lawyers to mediate disputes with staff amid a series of high-profile exits from football’s governing body in Gianni Infantino’s first year since replacing the disgraced former president Sepp Blatter.

Labour lawyers Nirmala Dias and Andreas Blattmann are working with FIFA employees “to explore and assist them in determining options to help resolve conflicts, problematic issues or concerns,” according to a FIFA spokesman. Head of security Ralf Mutschke and medical director Jiri Dvorak are among those who have been forced out under Infantino’s regime changes.

World Cup Expansion

Next week, the FIFA Council will vote on whether to expand the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams.

Infantino has floated the idea in recent months and it is expected to receive the approval of council members at the Zurich meeting on Tuesday, paving the way for an expanded tournament from 2026.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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