Qatar’s World Cup organising committee worked to ensure staff are protected on and off the pitch.
Some 200,000 staff working on the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar were protected by regulations put in place by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), the organising body said.
The staff members, which include those working in the hospitality sector, in the stadiums and in various other areas across the country, were navigating by the Workers’ Welfare Standards (WWS), created by the SC to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of workers.
Hospitality & construction
A sector of particular importance was the hospitality industry, where an estimated 40,000 workers were employed throughout the tournament.
Engagement with the industry started in 2019, and by 2022, 156 hotel operators were subject to a thorough regime of audits and inspections to ensure that the WWS was being properly implemented in their daily operations, a press release by the SC said.
The committee said it made significant advancements in supply chain management, worker accommodations, and access to remedies, as well as other employment practices.
Meanwhile, the groundbreaking programme for reimbursement of hiring fees kept expanding overall. By the end of 2022, 266 contractors had reimbursed more than 49,000 SC and non-SC workers who had been charged unauthorised recruitment fees a total of QR86.6 million.
In addition, 58 employees received QR163,670 in reimbursement from three hotel owners and service providers.
The SC said it also gave staff a voice through the Workers’ Welfare Forums, which were expanded to some 70 hotels following successful runs in the construction sector.
These forums have given employees the confidence to voice complaints to elected officials without worrying about repercussions, the release added.
Health and wellbeing
To date, the SC said it performed more than 43,700 thorough medical screenings, supported by an electronic medical records system, to ensure early detection and treatment of underlying medical conditions among workers.
In addition, efforts were also concentrated on improving the custom StayQool cooling suits for employees, which were made to counteract heat exhaustion.
By 2022, over 52,000 suits had been used, along with 13,000 balaclavas for workers exposed to the sun or dust and 5,000 vests for security guards. In order to investigate its wider application for outdoor professions, the StayQool suits were piloted in non-construction sectors.
Test events pre World Cup
The FIFA World Cup Intercontinental Play-offs, the Lusail Super Cup, and the Bollywood Music Festival served as test events throughout the year that helped to improve the workers’ welfare strategy for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and to ensure tournament readiness.
Over the course of the FIFA World Cup, the inspectors from WWD spoke with and conducted interviews with more than 8,000 workers at stadiums, practice facilities, and other non-competition locations to ensure that workers’ rights were upheld.
When problems were found, follow-ups with contractors and government officials were carried out to make sure the proper steps were taken, the SC said.
A ‘thank you’
The Supreme Committee also highlighted numerous outreach initiatives were also planned to honour workers and celebrate the common love of football in order to acknowledge the crucial role.
Included in this was the Team 360 Community Event, which gave staff members a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with and meet players and coaches from the United States, England, the Netherlands, and Argentina.
Additionally, a special FIFA Legends game was organised, inviting staff members to play on the same field as some legendary figures in world football.
The SC also noted that a dedicated team for labour rights and worker welfare was present at the FIFA World Cup to uphold workers’ rights for the first time ever, describing this as a “groundbreaking accomplishment” for a FIFA World Cup.
While the World Cup has now come to an end, the organising body said its attention to the welfare of the workforce will now be strengthened by the trailblazing work done over the past ten years.