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Senate Subcommittee Planning Hearing on FIFA Scandal

Moran is the subcommittee chairman. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Moran is the subcommittee chairman. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the wake of the scandal that’s rocked FIFA, the international soccer governing body, a Senate subcommittee is getting ready for a hearing on human rights in Qatar.  

Qatar has been criticized for human-rights abuses in connection with the migrant laborers helping build the World Cup facilities, and aides to Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., brought to his attention an ESPN E:60 report on the conditions associated with the construction.  

In an interview with Roll Call, Moran said he hoped to hold a hearing on the situation within the next 30 days in the Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security, which he chairs.  

“The FBI and the indictments certainly indicate that something is not right within this organization, and then the resignation of the newly-elected … president is further indication that something inappropriate, improper is occurring, and the part that has always interested me the most is what’s on in Qatar in regard to the building of the stadiums,” Moran said. “My thought is that at some point in time … surely now in the process of reforming FIFA as new leadership takes place … one of the things I want to explore and put a focus on is Qatar.  

“Shining the light on that I think will be beneficial to ending the labor practices and the human rights violations, and this needs to be an agenda item of FIFA as they change the way, as they hopefully change the way they do business,” Moran said.  

Moran said staff was currently working to assemble the best possible witness list. Moran’s interest in convening the subcommittee was first reported on Twitter by ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap, the reporter on the E:60 documentary.

An item posted last week by The Washington Post discussing the potential death toll for workers from India and Nepal drew a sharp rebuke from the Qatari government Tuesday.  

“An article in the Washington Post … claimed that 4,000 workers are likely to die while working on World Cup sites, and that some 1,200 had already lost their lives,” the Government Communication Office said. “This is completely untrue. In fact, after almost five million work-hours on World Cup construction sites, not a single worker’s life has been lost. Not one.”  

While Moran intends for the hearing to focus on labor conditions, senators on the panel are sure to probe the broader scandal around the international soccer regulatory body, including the recent indictments of top officials in the United States and the abrupt resignation of President Sepp Blatter.  

The recent action by the Justice Department has called into question the legitimacy of the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, and other senators have raised questions about the next World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in Russia in 2018. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., teamed up in a letter to Blatter just before the news broke of the indictments and arrests regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian intervention in Ukraine.  

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