Posts

Poverty and Domestic Violence
The connection between poverty and domestic violence is clear: Women from low-income backgrounds face increased vulnerability to abuse. They also struggle with barriers preventing them from escaping violence. Coming from a socioeconomically deprived household increases the likelihood of women suffering domestic abuse by three and a half times.

Studies in Great Britain also increasingly show the correlation between football (soccer) and alcohol-based intimate partner violence. During global football tournaments, existing abusive tendencies can be triggered.  This creates an environment where alcohol-related crime can surge. Economic status again comes into play here, with crimes involving alcohol being most prevalent among poorer communities.

Economic Abuse

The recognition of economic aspects of abuse is integral to tackling poverty and domestic violence at its core. Economic abuse is the legally recognized term referring to one partner being controlled and abused by the other who has power in terms of money, finances and items that a person’s money can buy. Those who suffer from economic abuse are five times more likely to face physical violence than those who do not. Without access to the funds needed to leave, economic abuse victims stay in a relationship longer and face more harm.  

The damaging effects of the United Kingdom’s austerity measures have also disproportionately impacted women. They have seen both their rights and economic security weakened by austerity cuts. Reduction of public service funding, universal credit and benefit cuts are just some of the factors contributing to alarming statistics. Studies show that women are unfairly impacted, often as second earners or unpaid caregivers. Further, women are more dependent on welfare and benefit schemes than men.

Football

Research found that England’s match losses in previous World Cup tournaments increased incidents of domestic violence by up to 38%. While domestic violence organizations do not deem the matches to be a cause of abuse, they acknowledge the potential for reactions to football matches to aggravate existing patterns. The relationship is complex, with numerous factors involved, and alcohol is likely to be a key component in this, due to the strong presence of alcohol in football culture. It follows that the combination of football culture and alcohol consumption poses a serious risk factor in gender-based violence. Finally, research demonstrates that lower socioeconomic status has an association with an increased tendency towards alcohol-related violence as well as violence in general.

There is an unmistakable trend. The combination of poverty and domestic violence compounded by football culture and alcohol use create a binding force in the increased risk of violence against women.

The 2022 World Cup

While many eagerly anticipate the sporting thrills of the 2022 World Cup in late November, domestic violence against women could escalate after the tournament. The correlation has varied, but domestic violence has regularly increased in World Cup team countries after tournaments throughout the world. A multi-year British study showed abuse increased more when England lost than when England won. While hosting the World Cup in 2017, Russia decriminalized certain types of domestic violence and reduced punishments, which led to an increase in occurrences of domestic abuse.

Qatar, where women have limited freedoms, is this year’s World Cup host. Women in Qatar must seek permission from a male family member before marrying, and when married, they must legally obey their husband. Furthermore, Qatar has no law protecting women from domestic abuse or marital rape. This, of course, prevents many victims from finding justice.

The decision for Qatar to host has already been questioned in regard to controversies surrounding migrant worker exploitation and the country’s lack of support for LGBT rights. However, it may also be time to question the implications of selecting a country so behind on women’s rights and abuse protection to receive such a platform, especially given that football culture can already prompt increases in rates of domestic violence.

Recognizing this threat, international organizations as well as the U.K. government and its largest nonprofit supporting victims of domestic abuse have developed campaigns over the past few years to bring awareness to the grave issue.

Campaigns to Protect Women

In 2020, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Union (EU) collaborate to create the #SafeHome campaign to combat the presence of domestic violence in football culture and the rise of such incidents throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign involves various videos, with football stars such as Kelly Smith, Oliver Torres and Rosana Augusto offering advice to both victims and perpetrators. It also raises awareness of the scale of this issue. Finally, it highlights the vulnerabilities of unstable financial situations. The #SafeHome toolkit strives to ensure support is accessible to all.

This public appeal for a no-tolerance attitude to domestic violence is part of a four-year-long partnership between FIFA and WHO to keep football culture safe. These efforts will continue during the upcoming World Cup.

The nonprofit Refuge is the U.K.’s largest organization supporting victims of domestic abuse and advocating for protection and funding. Its refuges, community service programs and hotline supported more than 10,000 women and 14,000 children during the 2020 – 2021 pandemic year. It has raised awareness of both the economic vulnerabilities to abuse and the threat of domestic violence surges during football seasons.

The UK’s Domestic Abuse Act

The U.K.’s Domestic Abuse Act of 2021 supports these efforts to combat poverty and domestic violence. It aims to improve victims’ access to support and justice. It broadens the definition of domestic violence to include forms other than physical abuse, such as manipulation, coercion and financial abuse. Crucially, it includes a pledge to give those suffering from domestic violence but lacking stable housing and income priority housing assistance.

Looking to the 2022 World Cup and Beyond

Football culture which economic abuse compounds devastates women and children globally. Thankfully, the recent increased and concentrated efforts of the U.K. government, Refuge and international organizations including the WHO, EU and FIFA are protecting more vulnerable women from poverty and domestic violence. Not only should this increase the protection against a possible surge following the November World Cup, but it should sustain greater awareness and protection far beyond the football tournament itself.

– Lydia Tyler
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Play PovertyThe Chilean poet Pablo Neruda once said that “a child who does not play is not a child.” Play, as defined by the World Economic Forum, is “freedom for children to engage with and learn from the world that surrounds them.” However, for millions of children in poverty, play is “an elusive luxury.” “Play poverty” is a term describing this scarcity of play among socio-economically disadvantaged children.

With rising research on the benefits of play on child development and performance, “play poverty” has become the focus of several NGOs and well-known organizations, such as FIFA.

The Power of Play

The World Economic Forum states that “Play is the rocket fuel of child development.” Psychologists believe play is crucial for brain development. Specifically, play “promotes connections between nerve cells, helps develop motor skills and coordination” and trains the brain to make sound decisions at an early age. As a result, the brain develops the “cognitive, emotional and social intelligence” that adults rely on.

In poor regions, many children are forced to forego their education to work or care for their families. In the regions most prone to low enrolment rates and the harsh realities of life, “time for play is often displaced by the chores and responsibilities that are so familiar to children growing up in poverty.” According to Right to Play, an NGO aiming to empower vulnerable children, play helps children stay in school while protecting them from exploitation and benefiting their future. Additionally, play helps children escape from “their harsh reality” of poverty, war and natural disasters.

Current Efforts by FIFA and Adidas

Adidas, FIFA and the FIFA Fan Movement, an organization connecting FIFA and the people, have collaborated to give ball donations to NGOs fighting for social good. The pandemic has left thousands of footballs unused; with sustainability in mind, the FIFA Fan Movement nominated 34 NGOs around the world and nine were selected. FIFA believes that their donation will help support “sport as a tool for building life skills such as teamwork, communication, hard work, discipline and a healthy outlet of physical activity.”

Case Study: Tanzania

In Tanzania, despite no school fees since 2015 in lower through secondary school, roughly 2 million children under the age of 13 are currently not enrolled or attending school.  About 70% of Tanzanian children between the ages of 14 and 17 are not enrolled in secondary education. Unsurprisingly, UNICEF found that “primary school-aged children from the poorest families are three times less likely to attend school than those from the wealthiest households.” The children are not out-of-school due to the financial burdens of education it is partially free. The reason is that Tanzanian parents often rely on their children to be a further source of income or guardianship. Unfortunately, this often forces children into vulnerable positions such as working under hazardous conditions or early child marriage. In fact, two out of five Tanzanian girls get married before the age of 18.

Jambo for Development

Luckily, Jambo for Development, a Tanzanian-based NGO, is one of the nine organizations to receive 108 footballs from FIFA. The NGO’s mission, which has a long history of support from FIFA, is to enable all children to have an equal opportunity at achieving their dreams. With FIFA’s help, Jambo for Development has a good chance at making some Tanzanian children’s dreams come true, as they will be equipped “with the skills and tools to address and embrace the new realities of tomorrow.”

– Lena Maassen 
Photo: Flickr

how-sports-programs-can-reduce-poverty
Sports programs can reduce poverty by promoting health, education and diplomacy in developing countries. The Foundation for Global Sports Development creates and supports numerous programs around the world to uplift children through sports. Access to safe and educational sports opportunities can prepare children and entire nations for success by teaching them valuable sportsmanship and conflict-resolution skills.

The Foundation for Global Sports Development

The Foundation for Global Sports Development began as an organization called Justice for Athletes in 1996. To this day, the Foundation “delivers and supports initiatives that promote fair play, education and the benefits of abuse-free sport.” For more than two decades, the Foundation’s central focus has empowered youth by encouraging young athletes to speak up about emotional, physical and sexual abuse. The Foundation also awards scholarships and grants, coordinates educational programs, promotes gender equality in sports and collaborates with countries to offer sports opportunities to children with socioeconomic disadvantages. In March 2021, the Foundation collaborated with the International Table Tennis Federation Foundation (ITTF) to support grassroots projects that help participants learn problem-solving skills for broader community issues through table tennis. The Foundation for Global Sports Development models how sports programs can reduce poverty by sponsoring children and teaching them valuable skills from a young age.

Early Childhood Benefits

Sports often teach children how to resolve conflict peacefully and respectfully. Conflict-affected areas may particularly benefit from sports programs because sports can teach children to overcome differences and work together as part of a team. According to ReliefWeb, in 2019, “1.6 billion children (69%) were living in a conflict-affected country,” a situation that continues to intensify. When children develop the skills to resolve conflict peacefully, in their adulthood, they can serve as peacemakers across a conflict-ridden nation.

Sports programs can also promote health and gender equality. These programs keep children active and often include co-ed interactions and relationships that help children learn to treat people equally, regardless of gender. Sports programs may even give children who excel at sports the opportunity to turn sport into a career and potentially support themselves and their families. From early childhood, sports programs can reduce poverty by encouraging diplomacy, boosting health, advancing gender equality and opening doors to career opportunities.

National Development

On a national level, sports programs can help raise awareness about social issues and public health. For example, in 2014, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) teamed up with the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness about Ebola and help combat the outbreak in West Africa. World-renowned soccer players participated in the campaign, and as popular icons, they spread awareness about preventative measures to protect against Ebola. Sports programs can also improve public health on a local level. Coaches often help children adopt good hygiene practices and understand the importance of physical activity and nutrition. Sports programs may even serve local economies by creating jobs in coaching and mentorship.

Individual sports programs may only reach one small community but have impacts that have the potential to reach an entire nation. Former South African president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela harnessed “the power of sport during the 1995 Rugby World Cup” to reunite South Africa after the abolition of apartheid. Mandela’s words at the 2000 Laureus World Sports Awards highlight the transformative power of sport: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.”

– Cleo Hudson
Photo: rawpixel

Poverty in Qatar
Ever since the International Federation of Association Football’s (FIFA) announcement that Qatar would host the 2022 World Cup, migrant flows to the country have exploded. Since 2010, Qatar has sought to bring thousands of workers to its shores in order to assist in the construction of stadiums, hotels and other infrastructure necessary to facilitate the tournament. To meet this demand, migrants from all over the Persian Gulf region, as well as South Asia, have flooded into the country. Migrants hoped to escape dire straits in order to find a stable job and a stable income. In fact, 700,000 workers came from India alone. However, migrant poverty in Qatar has become a significant issue.

Migrants in Qatar

According to Human Rights Watch, the migrant labor force has reached more than 2 million, making up approximately 95% of the labor force. However, despite being the second richest country in the world with a GDP per capita of $124,500 in 2017, a lack of labor rights has created widespread poverty in Qatar, especially among migrants.

The reason poverty persists among workers is the kafala sponsorship system. Migrants have to apply for visas from employers, often incurring costs through recruiters to do so. Even if workers do manage to pay enough to get access to a job, employers have broad controls over what workers can do. Employers often take passports from workers, preventing them from escaping brutal conditions. Additionally, some workers have gone with little to no pay. This has led to hundreds of thousands of people living in labor camps, where disease and poverty are rampant.

Solutions

In 2017 and 2018, Qatar’s government passed policies intended to reduce migrant poverty in Qatar. In October 2017, the government established a temporary minimum wage for migrant workers in the hopes of improving the conditions of laborers. One year later, in October 2018, Amnesty International reported that Qatar implemented a support and insurance fund in order to protect workers from lost wages.

However, Human Rights Watch has reported that both of these reforms were implemented unevenly, and thus have not had much of an effect. Employers still have a lot of control over workers, and poor enforcement has meant that the kafala structure is still in place.

On August 30, 2020, Qatar announced two new reforms in order to rectify this issue. The first was an increase in the existing minimum wage. The law will take effect in January 2021, and also requires employers to pay workers a stipend for food and housing. The second was a law to allow workers to leave their jobs without having express permission from their employers. This mobility could allow workers to escape dangerous conditions and find better work.

Such reforms could even save lives, as even the lowest estimates indicate that at least 1,200 people have died working on World Cup stadiums due to harsh conditions. International watchdogs have applauded these reforms. Amnesty International has argued that these small steps provide some hope that migrant poverty in Qatar, as well as worker exploitation, will soon be on the decline.

– Thomas Gill
Photo: Flickr

Migrant Workers in Qatar

When one thinks of the Gulf state of Qatar, sky-high skyscrapers, double-decker airplanes and sprawling shopping malls come to mind. Ever since the discovery of oil in the region in 1939, the Qatari economy has seen rapid growth. In 2018, the CIA World Factbook ranked Qatar as second highest for GDP per capita, making it one of the wealthiest nations in the world. But this also makes it important for people to learn about the state of migrant workers in Qatar.

Migrant Workers in Qatar

The progress in Qatar has its drawbacks. When FIFA selected Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup, the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar was brought to the spotlight. A research brief from the UK Parliament found that Qatar has 1.5 million migrant workers or 90 percent of its total labor force comprises migrant workers.

While foreign workers continue to report incidents of exploitation and segregation, Qatar has made substantial improvements to its labor laws and is cooperating with organizations like Amnesty International and the International Labor Organization in the process.

The Kafala System

Gulf states—including Qatar—use the kafala (Arabic for sponsorship) system as an employment framework to recruit migrant laborers from abroad to work in low-paying jobs.

Under the kafala system in Qatar, migrant workers have documented a range of abuses, among them, are delayed and unpaid wages, excessive working hours, confiscation of passports, inaccessibility to healthcare and justice, sexual violence as well as deception in the recruitment process. In short, the kafala system binds a migrant worker into an exploitative employer-employee relationship.

By giving an employer control over a migrant worker’s job and residential status, the kafala system encourages workplace abuses. With over 95 percent of Qatari families employing at least one housemaid, some migrants choose to become domestic workers in the homes of Qatari nationals, where they are often subjected to sexual violence.

Furthermore, The Guardian reported in October 2013 that many Nepalese workers have died since the beginning of construction projects for future World Cup sites. These Nepalese workers live in segregated labor camps outside Doha where they endure unsanitary conditions and scant water supplies.

Labor Laws in Qatar

Under pressure from international nonprofits, Qatar has implemented a series of labor laws to improve working conditions for workers. In December 2016, a new law allowed migrant workers to return to Qatar within two years if they had previously left without their employer’s permission. It also increased the penalty for employers found guilty of confiscating their employees’ passports and created a committee to review workers’ requests to leave Qatar.

While this made no reference to the kafala system, the law fell short of addressing kafala’s main shortcoming, i.e. workers still need permission from their employers to switch jobs.

In order to help domestic workers who are often victims of forced prostitution, Qatar introduced a domestic workers law in August 2017. Instating legal protections for over 173,000 migrant domestic workers, the law sets a limit of 10 hours for a workday and mandates 24 consecutive hours off every week, as well as three weeks of annual paid leave. Though in its early stages, the law promises to alleviate the alienation and abuse of domestic workers, some of whom work up to 100 hours per week.

The Qatari government is gradually repealing the kafala system. In October 2017, the government expanded the Wage Protection System and mandated payment of wages by electronic transfer.

On September 5, 2018, an Amnesty International press release reported that the Emir of Qatar issued Law No. 13, which bans employers from preventing migrant workers from leaving the country.

Conclusion

Qatar’s World Cup bid may have been a blessing in disguise. Qatar started its stadium projects using slave-like labor, and now it has slowly opened up to the critiques and suggestions from external nonprofit organizations. As an example, the International Labor Organization has forged a technical cooperation agreement with Qatar and together they have worked to unravel the kafala system. These changes will turn this wealthy country into a more equitable one.

– Mark Blekherman
Photo: Flickr

 

Underaged African Footballers Forced to Sign Contracts
According to a BBC investigation, this past February, 23 underage footballers from Africa were imported from their respective countries to play in Laos. The investigation claims that Champasak United, the club in question, had planned to develop the players and then capitalize on their sale or trade. IDSEA Champasak Asia African Football Academy is the unregistered academy partnered with the club in Laos. The players are mostly from Liberia, but also Sierra Leone and Ghana. Some of the players in question were even as young as 14 years old.

FIFA regulations restrict recruitment of players under 18 years old to clubs or academies.

Multiple players have reported that the work conditions were rigorous and their living quarters were overcrowded. Players stayed in dimly lit rooms and slept on old worn out mattresses.

One of the players, Kesselly Kamara of Liberia stated, “It’s hard to live in a place with no windows. It made sleeping very difficult, because you are thinking about your life.”

The faux contracts the players signed claimed to provide a monthly salary of $200, living accommodations and three meals per day. These provisions were not provided as frequently as promised or in most cases, not at all.

Pressure from FIFA released 17 of the players from their contracts. However, six players have decided to remain at the academy and take their chances.

Since Liberia does not have a football academy of their own, the young players were desperate to develop their skills. Often promised a celebrity status and financial riches, young players are eager to begin their careers and provide for their families. This is unfortunately the case in many African countries.

The former Captain of Champasak United, Alex Karmo, is a Liberian himself who has since left the club. From the perspective of a young Liberian player, the absence of their own academy coupled with the recruitment and promises of a fellow countrymen would make an easy decision. These agents can make anywhere between $3,000-10,000 per player.

It would, however, be a serious oversight to assume that this practice occurs only in these West African countries or on the African continent.

“Today we have criminal activists threatening world football and the young players, so it’s important to work together. Fifa will have to be on top of this battle,” says Jean-Claude Mbvounim. Mbvounim is the founder of “Foot Solidaire”, an anti-trafficking organization advocating for young players in Africa.

The organization estimates that as many as 15,000 young African footballers as young as ten years old are trafficked out of and within the continent. He states that one of the main difficulties is simply determining and distinguishing what is professional, amateur and recreational levels.

Foot Solidaire currently offers advocacy services to young players in Africa and is beginning to operate in the same function in France. It is planned to be known as the “European Network Foot Solidaire” and expand to other countries in Europe such as Spain, Germany, Belgium, Portugal and Italy.

The efforts of his organization have certainly gained traction and publicity internationally. In April of last year, perennial powerhouse FC Barcelona was found by FIFA to have violated rules regarding players under 18 and were in turn sanctioned and fined. While the severity of cases involving underage players cannot always be compared, the fundamental principle of protecting the young footballers reigns paramount.

The Borgen Project

Sources: BBC 1, Friday Magazine, BBC 2, Play the Game

Newly Formed "Sports & Rights Alliance" Advocacy Group-TBP
The Sports & Rights Alliance (SRA) is a newly formed coalition of NGO’s focused around preserving human rights in relation to global sporting events. The list of issues the SRA advocates for includes, but is not limited to: ending citizen displacement from sport infrastructure, imprisoning protesters, exploitation of workers, unethical bidding practices and environmental destruction.

The SRA is composed of various international NGO’s such as Amnesty International, FIFPro – World Players’ Union, Football Supporters Europe, Human Rights Watch, the International Trade Union Confederation, Supporters Direct Europe, Greenpeace, Transparency International Germany and Terre des Hommes.

This past February, the SRA penned a letter to the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stressing an adherence to the principles regarding the 2020 and 2024 games. The approved standards mandated by the International Labor Organization was a point of emphasis in addition to increased oversight and inspections for human rights conditions. For the bidding process, the letter requested robust efforts to maintain and enforce ethical business and anti-corruption in choosing a host city.

The IOC met this past February in Brazil to discuss “Agenda 2020,” the strategic outline for the future of the Olympics, which was passed by the committee in December of 2014. The closing of bid registration for the 2024 Olympic games is set for September of 2015 so the timing is most appropriate.

Many recent international games have come under intense scrutiny for similar violations. Free speech issues and poor treatment of their LGBT community has cast many questions and doubts regarding Russia’s selection as 2018 World Cup host. The 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics were tarnished due exploitation of workers, suppression of free speech and corruption. The SRA cites these as examples of a divergence from what international sport and competition should stand for and symbolize.

Additionally, the inaugural European Games are currently being held in Baku, Azerbaijan causing concern and objection throughout the continent. The country has a questionable human rights record and in recent months, government protesters, human rights advocates and international journalists have been detained and imprisoned on inflated charges. This causes great concern for the international community and for Europe in particular.

Another letter written to the President of the European Olympic Committee stressed the immediate and unconditional release of all current activists and journalists who are imprisoned. Furthermore, the letter called for an end to ongoing intimidations, detainments and persecutions of the aforementioned individuals.

FIFA’s selection of Qatar as the 2022 World Cup host has also been met with serious concern and criticism. In lieu of a pre-existing Football infrastructure, the country has relied upon migrant laborers to build multiple stadiums to host the Cup. This arrangement of labor is common throughout the Arabic Peninsula and known as the “kafala” system and is likened to modern day slavery.

FIFA has been inconsistent in their actions to condemn working conditions. The organization has stated their concern for the workers welfare, but also deny responsibility for their treatment. Referring to the government contractors, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, is quoted as saying “they are responsible for their workers.”

Before the FIFA Presidency election, the SRA wrote to President Sepp Blatter and his three opponents citing their grave concern for the condition of the workers. The letter included a questionnaire about their views on the current state of human rights in their sport. It also called for the victor in the election to take action to rectify any violations in the first 100 days of their presidency.

The SRA has proven to quickly become a powerful voice in international sports relations and gathered a following through their advocate efforts. Regarding the allegiance to human rights principles, the SRA have consistently ended their letters by saying, “All these standards should not be based on goodwill, but must be non-negotiable and absolutely binding for all stakeholders.”

The Borgen Project

Sources: The Globe And Mail, Human Rights Watch 1, Human Rights Watch 2, The Guardian
Photo: The Guardian

FIFA-Qatar-Kafala-System
The recent scandal surrounding corruption at FIFA has made headlines around the world. But could it affect the controversial 2022 World Cup in Qatar?

That remained in question Friday as FIFA re-elected Sepp Blatter as its president. The election comes on the heels of a massive corruption investigation involving the top brass of soccer’s governing body. The U.S. Department of Justice indicted 14 of the organization’s executives on dozens of separate charges this week. They are accused of “brazen corruption” in their dealings with sports marketing companies which generate billions for the organization.

FIFA is also accused of dishonesty in its selection process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, awarded to Russia and Qatar, respectively. The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland announced Wednesday that it would investigate “criminal mismanagement and money laundering” suspected to have taken place during the bidding process.

Though both selections raised eyebrows among soccer fans, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has proven to be the most controversial. The Gulf state has been widely accused of human rights abuses in its preparation for the event.

Migrant laborers seeking work in Qatar submit to a labor scheme, known as the kafala system, through which host companies “sponsor” foreign laborers. Upon arrival, many workers find their documentation confiscated and their rights severely limited. They sometimes work twelve hour days, seven days a week.

According to the International Labor Organization, the scheme is tantamount to slavery. An investigation by The Guardian found Nepalese workers in Qatar were dying at a rate of one every two days in 2014. Documents produced by that report list worker deaths caused by crushing and electrocution.

Without documentation papers, workers are prevented from ever leaving. Employers also withhold pay to suppress dissent.

Migrant workers play an enormous role in the economy of Qatar. Almost 90 percent of the country’s population is foreign-born and 99 percent of the private sector is foreign. Though human rights organizations and governments have complained, little has been done to address these issues.

Much of the work being conducted in this manner is in preparation for the 2022 World Cup, with contractors using the cheap labor to build facilities for the event.

If the current FIFA crisis continues, it will almost certainly jeopardize Qatar’s hosting opportunity. Sponsors have already begun to re-evaluate their relations with the organization and it is likely many will drop out.

As for the 2018 World Cup in Moscow, Blatter received a stamp of approval from another controversial president: Vladimir Putin. On Thursday, Putin said the investigation was an attempt to thwart Blatter’s re-election. The Russian leader, who was a champion of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, called the investigation “a grave violation of principles of international organization.”

– Kevin McLaughlin

Sources: Department of Justice, The Guardian, Human Rights Watch, Swiss Attorney General
Photo: Zee News

 

world cup
Destitute life in the slums of Rio de Janeiro has changed very little over the years. The streets may be currently adorned in green and yellow, but the quality of life continues to be the same.

1. The Most Expensive World Cup in History

The projected cost for hosting the games is more than $11 billion, which makes it the most expensive World Cup since it began 84 years ago. Citizens are complaining that the government of Brazil is spending so much money on the World Cup while many of its citizens are living in poverty. Paying for this World Cup has come out of these citizens’ taxpayer dollars.

2. Spent Billions of Dollars; Are There More Important Endeavors?

The money that was spent on the World Cup, on structures like stadiums and other sporting infrastructure, takes away from money that could have been spent on basic needs that many Brazilian citizens lack, such as education, better health care and adequate housing.

3. Corruption in the Brazilian Government and FIFA

The Brazilian government has been accused of overspending and corruption. The cost of building the Mane Garrincha Stadium came out to be $900 million, triple the original amount, largely due to fraud and corruption. FIFA, which has always been known for corruption, will be gaining all profits from the World Cup, while Brazil is paying the costs. The gains will not go to the people who really need it in Brazil, even though the Brazilian government has spent so much money on the World Cup. Many Brazilians can’t afford tickets to the games, or even afford to travel to protests against the World Cup, while their taxpayer dollars have gone towars paying for the World Cup.

4. Providing More Business For Sex Tourism

Sex tourism is encouraged in Brazil, and hotels and taxis are even part of the network that links clients with women and young girls. In Recife, one of the World Cup sites and also one of the poorest parts of Brazil, 120,000 soccer tickets were sold to foreigners. The women and young girls know that foreigners coming have a lot of money and “they come to Brazil to have fun.” A handful of sex workers have even taken English classes in order to negotiate better. The World Cup was originally sold to Brazilians as an economic boost because of the rewards of greater tourism. Unfortunately, one of the facets of tourism in Brazil is the sex industry, and this increase in tourism is perpetuating the sad cycle of abuse in the industry.

5. Encouraging Child Exploitation

Sadly, the sex industry in Brazil exploits children as well. Recife has one of the worst records in the world when it comes to child exploitation. In Sao Lourenço, where the Recife stadium is located, some of the street vendors not only sell food, but also their children for sexual exploitation. Child exploitation is so out of control in Brazil that officials are worried that tourists coming to Brazil for the World Cup will not respect their legislation on sex tourism.

— Colleen Moore

Sources: A.V. Club, WNCN, CBC, Philly.com, CNBC
Photo: Forbes

kafala system
Exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar has become an increasingly pressing issue since the implementation of the Kafala labor system. The Kafala system requires migrant workers to have a sponsor, usually their employee, to monitor their work and to control their visa and legal status. These sponsors, however, often prevent their laborers from moving jobs and have been known to either underpay or deny their employees pay.

Many workers from India, Sri Lanka and Nepal have been attracted by false promises from Qatari employers, but once contractually committed, they cannot leave the country without the permission of their sponsor.

Reporters from The Guardian ventured to some of these labor camps west of Doha and met 25-year-old Ujjwal Thapa from Nepal. He came to Qatar to work in order to send money back to his family, but had not been paid for months. His employer has his passport so he cannot leave, and upon his arrival, his family was required to take out a loan of 660 pounds from a private lender that has an interest rate of 48 percent per year.

Question as to whether Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup has been a topic of concern due to these human trafficking issues. In their report on human trafficking, the U.S. state department wrote that, “initial consent of a construction worker to accept hard work in a harsh environment does not waive his or her right to work free of abuse. When an employer or laborer recruiter deceives a worker about the terms of employment, withholds their passports, holds them in brutal conditions and exploits their labor, the workers are victims of trafficking.”

Eight to 12 stadiums would need to be built for the 2022 games, and although the Qatar organizing committee reported that no one had died yet building the stadiums, that is only due to the fact that the true building process has not yet begun. Between 2012 and 2013, 450 Indian laborers died and 184 Nepali workers have died in the past year.

General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, Sharan Burrow, predicts that if the Kafala system does not change, 4,000 workers will lose their lives in preparation for the 2022 world cup.

The U.S. State Department is looking to end this system by May of 2015, and in their report on human trafficking, they noted that Qatar has promised to reform these unjust labor practices. Although no serious changes have been made to improve the labor system, Burrow believes that the Qatari government will change the system if refusing to change will deny them the chance to host the World Cup in 2022.

— Jordyn Horowitz

Sources: The Guardian, BusinessWeek, New York Times
Photo: DohaNews