Russian Officials Dispute Report on Labor Abuses at 2018 World Cup Sites

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Fatma Samoura, FIFA’s general secretary, and Vitaly Mutko, chairman of the 2018 World Cup’s local organizing committee, spoke at a news conference on Friday in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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Georgi Licovski/European Pressphoto Agency

MOSCOW — Russian officials in charge of the 2018 World Cup and a FIFA representative pushed back on Friday against a report by Human Rights Watch that described perilous labor conditions for the construction workers building stadiums for next summer’s soccer tournament.

Aleksei Sorokin, chief executive of the tournament’s local organizing committee, said that all stadium construction sites had been inspected regularly and that there were no signs of labor abuses.

“First of all, the organizing committee, together with FIFA, was involved in monitoring the conditions for workers over the last two years,” Mr. Sorokin said at a news conference in St. Petersburg, Russia. “We cannot confirm the position expressed by Human Rights Watch.”

The human rights group’s report, released on Wednesday, said at least 17 construction workers had died and many others had faced exploitation and labor abuses. The report also said that FIFA, soccer’s corruption-plagued governing body, lacked transparency and had failed to demonstrate that its monitoring system had effectively identified, prevented and corrected stadium labor conditions.

“The inspections are done by our appropriate institute for labor protection,” Mr. Sorokin said. “We have checked more than a hundred contractors and subcontractors. This institute issued recommendations on how to improve it, but the signals that are indeed alarming were not confirmed.”

Vitaly Mutko, chairman of the local organizing committee and deputy prime minister, invited the news media to visit the stadiums to see the working conditions.

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