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Amnesty calls on FIFA to address Qatar workers' rights

DOHA (Reuters) - Amnesty International is calling on world soccer's governing body FIFA to address the issue of migrant workers' abuse in Qatar during its meeting later this month, the rights group said in a statement on Wednesday.

Pressure on Qatar, which is hosting the 2022 soccer World Cup, increased after a report in Britain's Guardian newspaper in September found that dozens of Nepali construction workers had died and that laborers were not given enough food and water.

Officials from Qatar and Nepal denied the report.

"Despite previous promises by FIFA to address the 'unacceptable' situation for migrant workers in Qatar, last week FIFA's Secretary-General Jerome Valcke said: FIFA is not a United Nations. FIFA is about sport," Amnesty said.

The London-based rights group called on FIFA to clarify its stance and end mixed messages over its role in addressing the abuse of migrants in Qatar's construction sector.

"When FIFA awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, it assumed a responsibility for the human rights impact of that decision. It is involved in this issue, whether it likes it or not," said James Lynch, Amnesty's researcher on migrant workers in the Gulf.

Faced with the challenge of completing major construction and infrastructure projects before the World Cup, Qatar has an increasing number of its estimated 1.8 million foreigners working on projects related to soccer's showcase event.

Last month, Qatar's 2022 World Cup organizers said they would penalize contractors who violate the welfare of construction workers and revealed a detailed workers' charter which contractors should comply with.

(Reporting by Amena Bakr, editing by Ed Osmond)

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