Fifa boss Sepp Blatter has gone on the defensive over claims of widespread abuse of migrant workers preparing for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
"Fifa cannot interfere with the labour rights of any country, but we cannot ignore them", Blatter said on his Twitter account @SeppBlatter after Fifa wrapped up a crunch two-day meeting behind closed doors at its Zurich base.
... documents from Nepal's embassy in Qatar, said thousands of Nepalese – at 370 000 the second largest group of labourers in the oil- and gas-rich kingdom after Indians – faced "modern-day slavery" and that dozens had died in recent weeks.
According to the International Trade Union Confederation, which raised the alarm in August and is sending a delegation to Qatar next week, if current death-rates continue, at least 4 000 workers could perish before the 2022 World Cup even begins.
Beyond the fatalities, critics also slam the confiscation of passports, withholding wages for long periods, debts to recruiters, insufficient drinking water in high temperatures, and squalid camps for labourers.
Amnesty International is set to publish an in-depth report next month on Qatar.
"The combination of forms of exploitation in certain cases that we have documented, we would consider that to amount to forced labour," James Lynch, Amnesty's researcher on foreign workers in the Gulf, told AFP.
Qatar repeatedly has rejected claims that conditions on the emirate's construction sites can be tantamount to forced labour.
It says it takes its international commitments seriously, and has announced plans to double its number of labour inspectors to 150, though critics question the likely effectiveness of that.