French soccer chiefs to check migrant workers’ conditions in Qatar

The French Football Federation (FFF) said on Friday (Oct 14) it will send a delegation to Qatar to carry out checks on the working conditions of migrant workers after a documentary revealed poor living conditions at the team’s World Cup base in Doha.

The France Televisions documentary was filmed before the summer, the national broadcaster said, as part of a joint investigation with Radio France into the controversy surrounding the World Cup being awarded to the Gulf state.

Footage showed crowded bedrooms and unsanitary kitchens and bathrooms in the accommodation for employees of a private security firm sub-contracted by the hotel where the France team will be staying for the Nov. 20-Dec. 18 tournament.

Some employees interviewed said that they were not paid overtime and hardly ever had a day off.

When the documentary confronted FFF president Noel Le Graet with footage of the accommodation, he responded that the living quarters only needed “a lick of paint”.

“It’s not unsolvable, there’s still time to fix it,” he said. “I could show you lots of pictures like that in lots of countries, even in some not far from (France).”

France’s sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera told RTL on Friday she was shocked by Le Graet’s reaction and that it “lacked humanity and even coherence”.

The documentary revealed the FFF had terminated the contract with the security agency because of a “number of unacceptable irregularities” and launched an investigation, which the delegation would carry out on site in mid-October.

Qatar, where migrant workers and foreigners make up the majority of the 2.8 million population, has come under severe scrutiny from human rights groups over its treatment of migrant workers in the run-up to the tournament.

A member of the World Cup organising committee said on Thursday that Qatar acknowledges gaps in its labour system but the tournament has allowed the country to make progress on issues related to workers’ rights.

The government of Qatar has previously denied a 2021 Amnesty report that thousands of migrant workers were still being exploited.

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