Amnesty International has written to Fifa calling on the world governing body to use its leverage to ensure Qatar fulfils its promises regarding the rights of migrant workers.
The World Cup is scheduled to begin in the country in November 2022, with the latest round of qualifying matches taking place this week.
In a four-page letter to Fifa president Gianni Infantino, Amnesty has called on the organisation to take “urgent and concrete action” in pressing Qatar to deliver a programme of labour reforms before the tournament.
Amnesty acknowledges that Fifa has taken steps on the issue since awarding the event to Qatar in 2010, while the country has also made some positive reforms in recent years.
But Amnesty argues its research has shown that thousands of migrant workers are still exploited and abused, while it claims recent moves could undo many of the reforms.
Steve Cockburn, head of economic and social justice at Amnesty International, said: “As the World Cup organising body, Fifa has a responsibility under international standards to mitigate human rights risks arising from the tournament.
“This includes risks to workers in industries like hospitality and transport, which have expanded massively to facilitate the delivery of the games.
“This week’s qualifiers are a reminder that the window for Fifa to influence Qatar is closing — it must act now to ensure that the 2022 World Cup is a tournament to be proud of, and not one tainted by labour abuses.
“Fifa must use its voice to urge Qatar to urgently implement and enforce existing reforms, and to reject proposals to strip workers of their newly gained rights.
“Fifa and Qatar must put in place a robust plan of action to ensure that migrant workers across all sectors associated with the World Cup have been paid properly, treated fairly, and are free from the control of exploitative employers.
“Fifa has an opportunity to help leave Qatar a better place for migrant workers, but the clock is ticking.”