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World Cup labourers for Qatar 2022 in need of 'urgent attention' - audit

FIFA president Gianni Infantino tells Gab Marcotti about his hopes that the 2018 and 2022 World Cups change negative perceptions of Russia and Qatar.

Migrant workers on Qatar's 2022 World Cup building sites are going up to five months without a break, according to an audit that revives concerns about labour conditions.

Impactt, the World Cup organisers' external compliance monitor, found working hours exceeded 72 hours per week at eight construction companies -- a "critical" non-compliance of expected practices.

The report is a snapshot of the conditions for workers on the vast construction project being overseen by a body known as the Supreme Committee. Only 19 of the 208 construction companies were assessed, including 679 worker interviews, while 12 contractors lacked a reliable system to monitor hours, Impactt said.

Three workers for one contractor went without a day off for between 124 and 148 consecutive days. In one extreme case a 402-hour working month was uncovered, 90 over the limit.

Impactt said "urgent attention" was required to address ongoing contractual issues.

The report found 96 percent of new workers were paid an average of $1,248, with the majority not receiving a receipt, according to interviews with a sample of 24.

Impactt did, though, acknowledge a "new spirit" in Qatar to embrace changes to labor laws, including holding elections for worker welfare forums.

Meanwhile, Switzerland -- home to FIFA's global headquarters -- and Qatar will increase cooperation in criminal investigations, according to authorities.

Switzerland's federal justice department says that "these efforts are also in the interests of a clean Swiss financial center."

The federal office said Thursday that it hosted Qatar's attorney general, Ali Bin Fetais Al Marri, this week to sign a working agreement on mutual assistance, including direct contact in future cases between justice officials in the two countries.

Since 2014, Swiss prosecutors have investigated suspected money laundering linked to FIFA's World Cup bidding process that led to Qatar being picked to host the tournament in 2022 and Russia in 2018.

A spinoff from the FIFA case saw Swiss prosecutors open criminal proceedings last year against Qatari soccer and television executive Nasser Al-Khelaifi -- also the CEO of Paris Saint-Germain -- for suspected bribery. He denies wrongdoing.

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