BRUSSELS - The International Trade Union Confederation is pushing FIFA to press for changes in Qatari labour laws because it says at least 4,000 migrant workers could die in the extreme heat as they build facilities for the 2022 World Cup.
ITUC Secretary General Sharan Burrow said in an interview with the Associated Press on Thursday that instead of working to improve the plight of the Asian migrants, FIFA was in "a conspiracy" with the Qatari authorities to maintain a status quo.
"If FIFA really were serious, then their power to hold the World Cup with decent work or to withdraw it would be enough for the Qataris to sit down and talk," she said.
FIFA said Thursday it was "very concerned" about reports "regarding labour rights' abuses and the conditions for construction workers" working on the 2022 World Cup project at Lusail City.
"FIFA will again get in contact with the Qatari authorities and the matter will also be discussed at the Executive Committee meeting" on Oct. 3-4, football's world governing body said in a statement.
The FIFA board session next week could decide "in principle" that the 2022 tournament cannot be played in the Qatari summer, FIFA President Sepp Blatter has suggested.
Burrow said FIFA had promised after a November 2011 meeting to do something about the labour conditions within six months.
"They failed," she said.
Burrow wrote in a Sep. 20 letter to Blatter that "several hundred migrant construction workers die each year in Qatar" where they often work in extreme heat. Burrow spoke of 1.2 million migrant workers in Qatar, many labouring in extreme heat long hours, little pay and without legal protection.
In the interview, she said that the construction of stadiums, hotels and other facilities would easily add to that.
Without changes in the labour conditions, "the minimum estimation, the very conservative estimation from our side is that 4,000 workers will die before a ball is kicked," she said.
The ITUC is a global trade union group uniting 178 million workers in 156 countries.
AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar contributed from Geneva.
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