Qatar accused of being a "slave state" as pressure campaign on Fifa sponsors is launched

Joe Hall
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New Fifa Now is urging fans to write to Fifa sponsors such as Coca-Cola. (Source: Getty)

Qatar has been accused of being a "slave state" at the launch of a campaign from international workers unions, pressure groups and the sportswear company Skins demanding Fifa's sponsors challenge human rights abuses at World Cup construction sites in the gulf state.

Figures from Skins, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the UK's Trade Union Congress and the "New Fifa Now" group have called upon football fans to write to the chief executives of Fifa's biggest backers to review their support for a tournament whose construction workers it says are denied basic human rights.

The launch of the campaign comes after BBC journalist Mark Lobel revealed he and his team were arrested and detained in Qatar while filming the living and working conditions of the country's migrant workers.

Read more: The six biggest problems with the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

Speaking at a launch event this morning, ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said Fifa knew Qatar was what he described as a "slave state".

Burrow said:

Qatar is a slave state. The discrimination, the racism, the denial of rights for 1.4m migrant workers adds up to apartheid and a model of employment that is simply slavery. There is a conspiracy of silence by governments and major sporting and cultural institutions that allow it to continue. The world must not be duped by Qatar's empty promises of reform.

New Fifa Now has posted contact details for the chief executives of Adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Visa, Hyundai, Budweiser, Gazprom and Kia and urged fans to write emails with their concerns.

Qatar has come under heavy criticism for its treatment of migrant workers under the kafala labour system which requires immigrant workers to have an in-country sponsor for their legal status.

The ITUC estimates that as many as 4,000 expatriate construction workers will die before the tournament in 2022, while a Mirror investigation published over a year ago said as many as 1,200 workers had been killed in stadium construction work.

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