There have been at least 17 Russia World Cup deaths related to construction of stadiums ahead of next year’s event, maintains Human Rights Watch which is holding FIFA responsible.
According to a statement it released on Wednesday outlining the rights of construction workers building stadiums for Russia to host the FIFA 2017 confederations Cup and 2018 World Cup, the organization said workers there face exploitation and labor abuses.
“FIFA’s promise to make human rights a centerpiece of its global operations has been put to the test in Russia, and FIFA is coming up short,” said Jane Buchanan, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“Construction workers on World Cup stadiums face exploitation and abuse, and FIFA has not yet shown that it can effectively monitor, prevent, and remedy these issues.”
Reportedly, there have been repeated strikes organized by workers on several stadiums, protesting non-payment of wages and other labor abuses.
Human Rights Watch said it had conducted interviews with numerous construction workers, and a common complaint was that they were afraid to speak out about abuses, fearing reprisals from their employers.
“The apparent surveillance and detention of a Human Rights Watch researcher and pressure on workers not to report abuses suggests that those responsible for labor conditions on World Cup sites have something to hide,” Buchanan said.
“Football fans, players, coaches, and others have a right to know who’s building the World Cup stadiums and under what conditions. Transparency is key to any serious human rights protection.”
Responding to the claims, FIFA released a statement in which it agreed with Human Rights Watch’s objective to ensure decent working conditions at various FIFA World Cup stadium construction sites.
The federation said a pioneer monitoring system had been implemented to identify issues and take measures to address them.
“While incompliances with relevant labour standards continue to be found – something to be expected in a project of this scale, the overall message of exploitation on the construction sites portrayed by Human Rights Watch does not correspond with FIFA’s assessment, which is based on the quarterly inspections conducted by independent experts and trade union representatives.”
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