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When Pope wrote to FIFA highlighting report on Qatar slave labor

Published: Updated:

Pope Francis is an avid football fan and human trafficking has been one of his pontificate's main priorities.

When a papal foundation highlighted modern-day slavery being practiced in Qatar during the process of construction of stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, he was only expected to take notice.

According to a report in The Crux, when the Pope was presented a report - “Behind the Passions” - by the Foundation for International Democracy, he took note of it and sent a letter to the then FIFA President apprising him of what he called flagrant violation of human rights.

“I gave him this report, and due to our encounter and the reading of the material, His Holiness sent a letter to the president of FIFA through Scholas, asking for an explanation of these allegations he’d received from us,” Argentine Guillermo Whpei, President of the Foundation for International Democracy, was quoted as saying.

The report also suggests that Secretary General of the Trade Union Confederation Sgarab Burrow, FIFA hasn’t assumed any responsibility regarding human rights of the migrant workers in Qatar.

According to Human Rights Watch, a New York-based non-profit, migrant construction workers, including the ones working on the stadiums for the World Cup, are working under life-threatening heat. This has caused hundreds of workers to die due to heat exhaustion.

“Enforce adequate restrictions on outdoor work”, said the Human rights Watch in a statement in 2017, the report claimed. However, Director of Government Communications Office Sheikh al-Thani has been quoted as saying that “migrant workers receive the necessary on-site protections.”

Scholas, a papal foundation, and many other human right groups are not satisfied with the current changes and are pressuring FIFA to exercise more pressure on the Gulf country to ensure that no moer migrant workers are working in slave-like conditions.