Soccer-FIFA discusses human rights concerns ahead of Qatar World Cup


FILE PHOTO: FIFA's logo is seen in front of its headquarters during a foggy autumn day in Zurich, Switzerland November 18, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

(Reuters) - Global soccer governing body FIFA said it held talks on Tuesday with a number of member associations and confederations to address concerns relating to workers' welfare and human rights in host nation Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Britain's Guardian reported in February that at least 6,500 migrant workers – many working on World Cup projects - had died in Qatar since it won the right 10 years ago to stage the event, according to the newspaper's calculations from official records.

Players from Germany, the Netherlands and Norway have since worn shirts before World Cup qualifiers voicing concern over human rights in Qatar.

Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of Qatar's organising body, assured the stakeholders during the meeting that "significant progress" has been made through a labour reform programme since the country was awarded the tournament in 2010.

The meeting also saw presentations from human rights organisations and workers unions with direct knowledge of the situation on the ground.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said it was crucial that the member associations are satisfied with the recent labour reforms that have "benefitted tens of thousands of workers across Qatar".

"I very much welcome the constructive engagement with our member associations on this important topic," Infantino said in a statement.

"We know there is still work to be done, but we need to recognise the significant progress achieved in a very short time, thanks to the commitment of the highest authorities in the country, and to ensure that any debate on this complex matter should be based on verified facts."

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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