Qatar 2022, the World Cup of modern slavery. Is FIFA playing fair?

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Thür, Deborah
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Ahead of the World Cup 2022 in Qatar, migrant workers building the necessary infrastructure find themselves in a vulnerable, slavery-like position due to the exploitative Kafala system. The aim of this thesis is to investigate if FIFA - as one of the key actors of the World Cup in Qatar - has a responsibility to respect human rights. Another purpose it to analyse if FIFA is complying with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and accordingly, what FIFA is doing to protect human rights in Qatar. First, this paper identifies the human rights issues in Qatar. Then, it explores the structure of FIFA and the legal framework before it then outlines what FIFA and its sponsors are doing and could be doing to improve the situation in Qatar. Through literature research and an interview with the FIFA Human Rights Manager, it is evident that the UNGPs apply to FIFA and that FIFA is acknowledging a certain responsibility, however, is not doing enough to stop the violations. As the rights of a lot of foreign labourers are at stake, it is crucial that FIFA and the important main sponsors of the event are aware of their responsibility and properly implement the UNGPs. If a well-known sports governing body like FIFA stood up for human rights and showed that it does not accept violations by host countries, it could be considered as a ‘best practice’ for others and also influence other mega-sporting events like the Olympics.
Second semester University: University of Seville
sports, Qatar, business, human rights, business ethics, corporate responsibility, social responsibility, labour exploitation