“We promise you to provide a better place to reside than what you have now,” says the chief of Olympic organisation during the initial stage of the Brazil football World cup 2014 preparation to a commoner residing in the place where the government has decided to construct a stadium. But, what had transpired later in the day was entirely different. Hosting of sporting events like the ones of Olympic Games, Football and cricket world cup are a matter of huge revenue, pride and to showcase your nation at the biggest of stages in the sporting sphere. However, in the process of becoming the “sporting nation” most of the countries have been compromising on the welfare and safety of the general public.
Sports and sports events have the potential to uphold the spirit of equality and fair play. On an international platform, the real object of the nations is to view sport as a means to foster friendly relations and work towards sustainable development and promote competitiveness. The United Nations Organisation has identified sports as the tool for development and peace amongst the underdeveloped countries. A wing, United Nations Sport for Development and Peace has been established in order to engage sport as the means to minimize the conflict and friction between nations on domestic and international levels. The programs adopted by the wing of the UN also aims to create an atmosphere which would pave the way for social integration, nurture tolerance, improve bilateral relationships and generate dialogue. Hence, many of the nations across the globe have accepted sport as a mode for development and promotion of peace. Human Rights have to be treated as an integral part of international sports.
On the other hand, there is an unsettling spectacle at Qatar wherein the Football World Cup 2022 is scheduled to be taking place. In this desert nation, one could say numerous migrants from India, Nepal working for extended long hours for the construction of the stadiums and other important constructions for the hosting of the Football World cup. Qatar has now become home for around 1.4 million migrant workers who are sweating it out at the most bizarre conditions available. The government of Qatar has been under immense pressure for putting the migrant workers for inducing them to toil for more than the period of time that they have engaged to do. The situation has only gone from bad to worse as the migrant workers are under the control of the contractors who have procured the passports and visas of laborers. After the matter has been brought to the notice of the FIFA and human rights organisation the government of Qatar made steps towards the overhaul of the controversial Kafala system. Kafala system is a system under which a foreign worker would be sponsored by local guardian and this system has been at the center of all the criticism since the workers surrender all their visas and passports to the guardian and which would in turn deter the movement the worker and ultimately reduce them to nothing by modern day slaves. The situation worsened after the construction work for FIFA world cup got underway. If one could observe the scenario in the preparation for the FIFA world cup there has been a serious infringement of the Human Rights of not only the locals but also the foreigners and additionally the government has formulated a system to enable the employment of the migrant workers for this purpose alone. But according to a research conducted by one of the leading media houses, the public voice opinions that there has been a steady increase in the death toll ever since the construction of the stadiums for the FIFA world cup has started.
Steps were taken by the authorities
A laudable move has been taken by the International Olympic Committee chief in combating the infringement of the human rights in case of the migrant workers during construction. The chief of IOC has announced a contract that is to be signed by all the Olympic nations, the countries should approve that there shall be no form of human rights violation on the part of the workers. This is a clear example of the level of violation of the human rights by the hosting nations and the participating ones as well. The IOC has made a welcome move in fighting the violation with an iron fist and this shows that the authorities are headed in the right direction and have learnt from their previous experiences.
In the past, there have instances wherein, the hosting nations of the mega sporting events have resorted to the usage of force and misuse of the law to fight the persons who have raised their voice against the ongoing ill- treatment of the workers by the governments for the sake of the image on a global level. In Russia, an activist was awarded imprisonment for protesting against the activities of the authorities which were not in the best interests of the natives at the Sochi Games. On Another occasion, the IOC pestered the Russian Government to take necessary steps to combat the exploitation of the construction workers who have played a pivotal role in the building of the Olympic stadiums and other related infrastructures. The IOC investigative teams were sounded by the internal sources regarding the exploitation and they probed around 500 companies the region and came to the conclusion that close to $8 million wages of the construction laborers was confiscated by their superiors. This incident actually shook the sporting world and was like a wake cup call for the members of the IOC during the 2009 Olympics.
The growing glamour around sports make it really hard for any country to hold on to the ideals of human rights but what needs to be seen is the outcry of thousands of the laborers, contractors and other personnel who are involved in making these events a huge success. But are the hosting nations comprising on something that is invincible (human rights)? These are the questions that are to be answered by the men who matter. The FIFA Governing body meets and the voting for the next President shall take place, the next big personality for a sport that has a far-reaching capacity should take the responsibility and address the issues that are supreme importance. They are required to support the cause of human rights and bring in reforms in the FIFA charter are send a strong message to the other sporting bodies and countries on the issue of human rights, discrimination, corruption which weakening credibility of the sport and the event as well.
International Olympic committee even has made strides towards reforming the human rights policy of the organisation and making the other nations sign the contract to abide by the rules of human rights. They have also forwarded an ultimatum that states that if the hosting nation of the Olympics or the participating nation does not comply with the rules of the contract, then there could be a threat of disqualifying the nation from Olympics or forcing it to withdraw from hosting the event. Eventually, a sport should be unblemished from the marks of the human right violation and should be carrying forwarded to promote peace and harmony amongst countries.
Written by Naresh Pujari Linkedin
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The whole idea is to grow sports culture where sports are not only about playing but also about those heroes working off field to develop country through sports, bringing change to the society through it and making India a better place for sports lovers.