Blatter calls Qatar labor situation "unacceptable"

BERNE Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:04pm EST

FIFA President Sepp Blatter looks on during a news conference in Doha November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad

FIFA President Sepp Blatter looks on during a news conference in Doha November 9, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Fadi Al-Assaad

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BERNE (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter described the labor rights situation in 2022 World Cup host nation Qatar as unacceptable on Wednesday and agreed that the situation had to change.

Blatter met International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) president Michael Sommer three days after Amnesty International became the latest organization to publish a scathing report on the treatment of migrant workers in the country.

FIFA said in a statement it agreed that "fair working conditions must be introduced quickly, consistently and on a sustained basis" in Qatar.

"Economic and political leaders must contribute to improving the unacceptable situation in Qatar," Blatter said in the statement.

"That is why I welcome the initiative shown by the... ITUC because together we can achieve change.

"I am convinced that Qatar is taking the situation very seriously. These very discussions about Qatar show just what an important role football can play in generating publicity and thus bringing about change."

Sommer, who is also president of the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB), added: "We are very pleased that FIFA and the DFB (German Football Federation) have joined us in our mission to establish humane working conditions in the host country of Qatar.

"Qatar must guarantee the International Labour Organisation's core labor standards and thus eliminate discrimination and forced labor as well as allow freedom of association for its 1.3 million migrant workers."

FIFA said its executive committee member Theo Zwanziger would continue talks with the ITUC and other human rights and labor organizations.

"The aim is to be in a position to report on concrete measures for Qatar at the executive committee meeting in March 2014," Zwanziger said.

"Large companies must be reminded of their duties in this area. The international community must also accept its responsibility."

(Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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