LONDON, May 18 (UPI) -- Sponsors of soccer's World Cup were urged Monday to seek labor reforms in Qatar, site of the 2022 event.
The group "New FIFA Now," a reference to international soccer's governing body, said in London the major sponsors of the tournaments should speak up to address concerns over the treatment of labor in Qatar.
The oil-rich emirate is spending heavily on roads, venues and hotels in anticipation of the event, bringing in migrant labor by the thousands from Nepal, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries. The group claims hundreds have been killed in industrial accidents, and living conditions for the workers are squalid and hazardous. Although Qatari officials claim improvements in housing have been made, a BBC reporter was detained in Qatar last week for attempting to view migrants' living conditions.
"New FIFA Now" showed film footage Monday it said was taken in a Doha, Qatar, labor camp. It depicted cramped bedrooms and overflowing toilets.
Sharan Burrow, of the International Trade Unions Confederation, likened Qatar to a slave state.
"Qatar is a slave state. FIFA knows that Qatar is a slave state. The sponsors of FIFA know that Qatar is a slave state. The sporting associations, the fans and the players in huge numbers are telling FIFA that there can be no World Cup in Qatar without workers' rights. When FIFA tells you it has no power, it has the ultimate power. The Qataris want the World Cup. We have told them [FIFA] repeatedly that if they demand workers' rights, Qatar will grant it. Qatar could fix this. This is not about poverty. This is actually the richest country in the world. This is about greed, pure and simple. The Qataris see these people as less than human, and that is why we have a slave state."
The group said letters urging the major sponsors to pressure FIFA to improve working conditions were sent to Adidas, Gazprom, Hyundai, Kia, McDonald's, Budweiser, Coca-Cola and Visa. It also predicted over 3,000 workers will die before the World Cup begins in 2022.