FIFA President Sepp Blatter has backed calls from the European Union parliament urging Qatar to stop contractors from abusing the rights of migrant workers involved in construction for the 2022 World Cup.
Blatter also took aim at European companies working on the venues. Speaking in Rome following an audience with Pope Francis on Friday, Blatter says "we deplore what happened there."
Blatter adds "the big companies working there, they are all European. ... The constructor is also responsible for his workers."
The International Trade Union Confederation set off the growing furor two months ago. It said that unless labor practices changed at least 4,000 workers would die because of inhumane conditions.
The issue has drawn widespread criticism from football and non-football bodies alike, with questions continuing to be raised about Qatar’s ability to host the 2022 World Cup.
And the European parliament added its voice to those concerned about migrant stadium workers in the Gulf state, passing an emergency resolution asking FIFA to “send a clear and strong message to Qatar to avoid the football World Cup 2022 [being] delivered by the assistance of modern slavery."
It added that FIFA’s "responsibility goes beyond the development of football and the organisation of competition,” also detailing the problems that include "long working hours, hazardous working conditions, the workers being unpaid for months, [being]forced to live in overcrowded labour camps, denied the right to form unions, and without access to free drinking water in extreme heat.”
The Qatari government, however, believes the parliament should have waited on the results of an independent review before passing such a public judgment.
"Qatar takes the allegations that have been made concerning the construction sector extremely seriously and has therefore already put an independent review into those allegations in place, to be conducted as a matter of the utmost urgency," the Qatar foreign ministry said.
"Qatar will deal severely with any abuses on the part of companies operating in its construction sector, particularly relating to its migrant labour force."