By Shane Nicholson
FIFA, not content with displacing thousands of Brazilians for the last World Cup or the use of slaves to build the facilities for Qatar’s 2022 bid, is now the proud governing body overseeing the use of prison labor in prep for Russia’s 2018 events.
From the Associated Press:
The Russian prison service is backing a bid by Alexander Khinshtein, a lawmaker from the ruling United Russia party, to allow prisoners to be taken from their camps to work at factories, with a focus on driving down the costs of building materials for World Cup projects.
“It’ll help in the sense that there will be the opportunity to acquire building materials for a lower price, lower than there is currently on the market,” Khinshtein told The Associated Press. “And apart from that it’ll make it possible to get prisoners into work, which is very positive.”
Very. Positive. Prison. Labor.
This is probably the last thing FIFA wants to hear given that 4,000 laborers are expected to die building entire cities in Qatar’s deserts for 2022. The question is quickly becoming whether they even care.
The organization is such a corrupt mess now that Supreme Leader for Life (possibly not a real title) Sepp Blatter is reportedly afraid to travel to the U.S. for fear of being swept up in the FBI’s investigation into the 2018 and 2022 bidding processes. (In FIFA’s defense this isn’t Qatar’s only recent swindling job in the world of athletics.)
And now we have Russia, already hopelessly clinging to at $12.7 billion budget for 2018 while the ruble crumbles away, using prisoners to fill the gaps in the labor force for “tasks that, let’s say, wouldn’t appeal to the ordinary citizen.”
Of course there are no immediate plans to force prisoners to build facilities for 2018 specifically, but then there’s nothing regional-level Russian bureaucrats love more than grandstanding on the backs of human rights violations. Need a few more hands on deck to finish a bank of press boxes? Just round up a few offenders from the local jurisdiction!
Fear not though, friends–according to his Twitter Sepp in on the case: “Everyone in the global football community has a responsibility to act ethically. Football fans rightly demand this. FIFA has taken the lead.”
Stay tuned for FIFA to continue posturing over child labor in the manufacturing of soccer balls.