Workers hired to build stadiums and other structures in preparation for the FIFA 2017 Confederations Cup and 2018 World Cup in Moscow face exploitation and labor abuses, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.
Russian workers, many of whom migrated internally, and migrant workers from neighboring countries both reported unpaid or delayed wages, work in conditions as cold as -25° C, and the failure of their employers to provide work contracts required for legal employment, the watch dog said.
“FIFA’s promise to make human rights a centerpiece of its global operations has been put to the test in Russia, and FIFA is coming up short,” said Jane Buchanan, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Construction workers on World Cup stadiums face exploitation and abuse, and FIFA has not yet shown that it can effectively monitor, prevent, and remedy these issues.”
Human Rights Watch also said that workers were hesitant to speak about abuses, fearing reprisals from their employers.
Additionally, the international rights group said one of their researchers was detained, questioned, threatened, and eventually released without charges by Russian authorities while trying to interview construction workers outside the World Cup stadium in April.
Though FIFA documented a system coordinated with Russian authorities to monitor working conditions, Human Rights Watch stressed that the system was not made public, and that it only covered the construction of stadiums and no other World Cup infrastructure construction.
Russia will host eight international soccer teams, including its own at the Confederations Cup from June 17 to July 2. One year later, Moscow will host the World Cup, the world's premier football tournament.