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Slaves to the Beautiful Game - Tonight on Foreign Correspondent

ProgrammingKevin Perry
image - ABCTV

image - ABCTV

Airs Tuesday, June 2 at 8pm on ABC

World football’s latest corruption implosion begs the question: should Russia and Qatar be stripped of their World Cup tournaments?

Russia won the 2018 tournament bid. For 2022, Qatar knocked off a field that included Australia – despite inevitable queries about staging a summer sport extravaganza in a scorched desert state with a tiny population.

Foreign Correspondent’s Eric Campbell has been in Qatar to witness how this Middle East emirate – the world’s richest country per capita – is spending some of the $260 billion it’s showering on new stadiums, hotels and infrastructure.

He discovered that the people doing the hard work – migrant labourers mostly from South Asia – endure wretched living and working conditions.

“(They) live in squalor...They’re owned by another individual, lock, stock and barrel – that’s slavery.” - SHARAN BURROW, head of the International Trade Union Confederation.

Australian Sharan Burrow, former ACTU chief, takes Campbell on a tour of a hostel of Nepalese workers, living 12 to a room, who endure filthy kitchens, washing and toilet facilities and work six days a week for up to 12 hours a day with no paid overtime.

“They just bring you back when they decide you’ve finished.” - NEPALESE WORKER

Qatar has a system called kafala which means foreign workers surrender their passports to the employer who decides where they work and even whether they can even leave Qatar. In response to international pressure, including from FIFA, Qatar is promising to reform the kafala system. 

“The workers here can be physically and verbally abused, they can lose their visa, which is their livelihood, they can be stuck in detention centres or they can be kicked back home.” - MUSTAFA QADRI, Amnesty International

Eric Campbell’s investigation also took him to France, to hear to bizarre story of former footballer Abdes Ouaddou, who was hired to play in Qatari League. At first all went well but then he was ordered to change clubs, his salary was cut and he was denied an exit visa.

Only by complaining to a player’s union and FIFA was Ouaddou eventually allowed to leave. But he remains outraged that Qatar has been given the right to stage the World Cup. 

“How can such a prestigious, popular competition take place in a country that doesn’t respect human rights or the law? That was modern slavery. I am shocked. How can Qatar enjoy this conspiracy of silence?” - ABDES OUADDOU

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