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Human Rights Watch Says Russia’s World Cup Construction Workers Face ‘Exploitation And Abuse’

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As excitement grows for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, concerns are rising that FIFA has not taken the proper steps to ensure that the workers constructing the facilities are kept safe.

Human Rights Watch reported Wednesdayday that builders “face exploitation and labor abuses” in their preparations for the Confederation Cup and World Cup.

The full report documents “how workers on six World Cup stadium construction sites faced unpaid wages either in full or part” and are expected to “work in temperatures as cold as -25 degrees Celsius [13° F.] without sufficient protections.”

The organization also notes that the employees, who come from across Russia and other neighboring countries to work on the construction, “said that they were afraid to speak out about abuses, fearing reprisals from their employers.”

HRW points out what it perceives as a lack of oversight by FIFA as a large contributor to this ongoing abuse. FIFA has previously faced criticism over the handling of workers in Qatar, and last May tried to bring an end to instances of prevalent worker abuse by establishing a labor monitoring authority with Russian officials which has been met with limited success.

This FIFA sanctioned monitoring group, according to the HRW, “said it resolved issues revealed by [FIFA’s] monitoring process,” but “has otherwise not published comprehensive details on the kinds of labor abuses inspectors found; on which stadium sites they found violations and when; specific actions FIFA or others took in response; or concrete outcomes for workers.”

While the Confederation Cup is set to start this Saturday, there may still be time for conditions to improve from the findings of this report. But given both Russia’s tenuous history of workers abuse in the Sochi Olympics, and the reports of abuses for years in the construction of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup arenas, lasting resolutions to these ongoing workers issues are difficult to foresee before the World Cup takes place next summer.

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