How do you generate attention for the silent engine behind the World Cup?

‘Pay financial compensation to the workers who built the Qatar football stadiums (and their families) as much as you payed the players.’ On the eve of the FIFA World Cup 2022, Amnesty International demanded justice for the migrant workers who built the stadiums in dire circumstances. With a sharp creative concept and ditto online activation campaign, iO brought the issue to the general public.
world cup worker


Amnesty International Flanders


Make people aware of the harrowing fate of the thousands of migrant workers who made the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar possible.


A creative campaign urging the general public to sign the international petition.

Blood, sweat and tears (but no reward)

An international football tournament takes blood, sweat and tears, but after the final whistle awaits eternal glory. And a gigantic pot of gold.

But the prize money only goes to those who dribbled, sprinted, kicked and scored. In short: those who gave the best of themselves on the pitch. But the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who toiled in harrowing, degrading conditions to build the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar were not invited to pass by the cash register. That is, if they were still alive to witness the finals. No less than 6,500 workers perished even before referee Daniele Orsato’s whistle kicked off the first game. Especially in the last stretch before the tournament, this gruesome news feat was drowned in a tsunami of stories about the teams and star players.

Amnesty Solidariteitsprijs 2022

A clear win: the Workers World Cup

On the eve of the World Cup, worldwide human rights organization Amnesty International demanded justice. It urged the international football organization FIFA to compensate the aggrieved construction workers (and their families) with an equal amount of money as the WC tournament winners would receive. An international petition and campaign - hashtag: #payupFIFA - reinforced the demand.

As the long-term communication partner of the Belgian branch of Amnesty, iO translated this message into a creative concept and launched the campaign on the occasion of newspaper De Standaard’s Solidarity Prize. We designed a Workers World Cup trophy, a nearly perfect copy of the official World Cup trophy. Here, instead of two random male figures, two construction workers hold the globe in the air - they’re easily identifiable as such thanks to their hi-vis vest, helmet and work trousers. The message was clear: without this winning team the World Cup won't even be able to go ahead, so treat them with the same respect as the football stars.

Help build the 3D-Workers World Cup

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In the final weeks before the tournament, Amnesty decided to shift up another gear. The organization was given the opportunity to broadcast its message to the hundreds of thousands of football fans who followed the World Cup broadcasts on national Belgian television. So we turned the Workers World Cup concept into a 30-second TV spot showing a construction worker in a football stadium holding up our worker’s trophy. The call to action at the end of the spot incites people to sign the petition on the Amnesty website.

In addition, we provided a creative online activation: with every signature under the petition, our 3D printer would add a layer to a real plastic Workers Cup trophy. Those who signed the form received a photo of the 3D printing progress. Thanks to 10,000 signatures we were able to print the entire World Cup: a symbolic shot at the goal of FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

"We demand that FIFA provide compensation to migrant workers who were victims of human rights violations during the World Cup in Qatar. The Workers World Cup was a creative way for us to highlight the 'hardest working team' of World Cup workers, and increase pressure on FIFA and Qatar."

Griet Ryckeboer, Communications, Amnesty International België

Turn up the heat

More than 10,000 people signed the petition, and the Amnesty website received no fewer than 15,800 visitors. However, months after Lionel Messi and his teammates received eternal fame and a huge cash prize, FIFA did not yet install the requested compensation fund for the aggrieved workers. So, Amnesty decided to continue the campaign and aim for 15,000 signatures.

President Infantino may not lose one second of sleep over the continued pressure from Amnesty, but our campaign certainly means huge support to the many thousands of people who made the first World Cup in the Arab world possible, with their blood, sweat and tears. For iO it is absolutely clear who the real winners are.

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