FIFA must investigate claims of slave labour in construction of St.Petersburg football stadium
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Civic Assistance Committee in Moscow have today sent a letter to the presidents of FIFA and UEFA, urging them to initiate investigation into allegations of the use of North Korean slave labour during the construction of the football stadium Zenit Arena in St. Petersburg. While there are still numerous violations of human rights with respect to workers and migrants in Russia, it is vital that well-known and respected international bodies such as FIFA, do not become complicit in such practices, and act upon the human rights commitments underlined in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Sustainability Strategy and FIFA 2.0: The Vision for the Future.
The Norwegian Football magazine Josimar recently published their shocking investigative research into the working conditions at the Zenit Arena football stadium in St. Petersburg, uncovering that
- Migrant workers have been discriminated against and treated unfairly, i.e. not paid fairly and according to contract,
- Dangerous work conditions have resulted in deaths and accidents,
- About 100 North Koreans work on the site in forced labor-like conditions.
Which measures have FIFA, and UEFA, undertaken to ensure compliance with proper work standards and conditions in the operations associated with the FIFA World Cup and Confederations Cup in the Russian Federation? UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin has refused to answer this question on several occasions.
FIFA has established an independent advisory board composed of international experts that shall provide FIFA with advice on human rights relevant issues, and strategies that are intended to strengthen the efforts to deliver on human rights commitments. Investigation into the allegations of slave labour in St. Petersburg is a natural place to demonstrate the depth of these efforts.
Illustration photo from the Josimar article.