To make matters horrifically worse, Qatar – which has a history of labour abuses – has been responsible for (conservative) estimates of 1,200 migrant workers' World Cup-related deaths since being selected in 2010. Now, six years later, FIFA has finally decided that maybe they should oversee that whole death situation.
Less than a month after Amnesty International released a report accusing Qatar of using forced labour, FIFA made a formal declaration on Friday to monitor working conditions at Qatar's stadiums. While making his first visit as FIFA president, Gianni Infantino declared that the world governing body would assemble a committee comprised of "relevant sectors of civil society and other relevant FIFA stakeholders." Anything hand-picked by FIFA – not to mention the direct conflict of interest by using stakeholders – seems like a new recipe for corruption using the same old ingredients.
Infantino visited both the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha – a pre-existing facility, and not one of the eight stadiums that are being built specifically for the tournament – and workers' living quarters on his two-day trip. He also met up with Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
"FIFA and I will take the Qatari authorities at their word and I look forward to the concrete actions which will be the real testament of will," Infantino said, according to the Associated Press, mentioning that he was "confident that we are on the right track."
Taking Qatari officials at their word also seems like a dubious policy, given that they were in charge of monitoring the situation in the first place.
No, Infantino hasn't exactly been kicking asses and taking names in his mission to right the international football federation's moral compass. Given the fact that he recently ushered in a huge business deal with Blatter's nephew and asked for FIFA's confiscated bribery money back from the U.S., so far it seems like business as usual with FIFA.
Last week Harvard professor John Ruggie released a FIFA-sanctioned report on the organisation's human rights practices, and recommended that tournaments be moved if host countries persisted in their abuse of workers. It seems, however, that FIFA has chosen to ignore that advice and stick with the abusive host country. It's just an issue now of how many more lives will be lost.