Visa expressed "grave concern" Wednesday about the worker conditions in Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup, becoming the first major American sponsor to speak out about reports of worker deaths at construction sites.
“We continue to be troubled by the reports coming out of Qatar related to the World Cup and migrant worker conditions," Visa said. "We have expressed our grave concern to FIFA and urge them to take all necessary actions to work with the appropriate authorities and organizations to remedy this situation and ensure the health and safety of all involved."
The Gulf nation is urgently preparing to host the 2022 World Cup amid searing heat and accusations of bribery. After reports of some worker deaths last summer, the International Trade Union Confederation, a global trade group representing workers' rights, brought new attention to the crisis this week with a campaign, in partnership with NewFifaNow and the Play Fair Qatar groups.
The campaign calls for pressure on FIFA and its president, Sepp Blatter. and predicts that "more than 62 workers will die for each game played during the 2022 tournament."
Visa's statement is the latest sign of increasing sensitivity by corporate sponsors of sports leagues to issues that receive negative attention. Last year, Visa was among several corporations, including Pepsico, AB-InBev, and Radisson Hotels, that all put out statements admonishing the NFL for its handling of the Ray Rice domestic abuse case.